. . . and other feats performed by the advertising wizard Pat Fallon.
Pat Fallon made you look and listen.
Considered a legend in the advertising industry, Fallon — whose Minneapolis-based agency, Fallon Worldwide, created some of the most memorable ads in decades — was no mad man. When he cofounded the firm in 1981 with a fullpage ad in the Minneapolis Star Tribune seeking clients “who would rather outsmart the competition than outspend them,” he had no money and no clients, just a will to upend a tired and stale business.
It was time to stop “drilling insipid jingles into people’s minds,” he recounted in an interview last year. “We thought that you shouldn’t have to shout 20 times to be heard once.”
Neither copywriter nor art director, “he was the best I’ve ever seen at creating an energy field in which creative people can prosper,” company co-founder Fred Senn told the Toronto Star.
Fallon, who died Nov. 13 in Minneapolis, age 70, built his own brand on adroit, often comedic visual ideas, arguing that successful ad campaigns require knowing consumers “in ways that no one else had gotten to know them.”
In other words, acknowledging that the consumer had a brain and a funny bone.
Among his firm’s blue-chip clients over the years were Lee Jeans, MTV, Miller Lite, Porsche, Citibank, BMW, Holiday Inn Express, United Airlines and Cadillac.
At one time, Fallon’s agency was probably the best in the world, said Brian Sheppard, executive vice-president and creative director at the Toronto office of Saatchi & Saatchi, the global advertising powerhouse.
Along with other firms in smaller cities, Fallon’s shop “demonstrated that amazing advertising could come from places other than New York, Chicago or Los Angeles,” Sheppard added.
The agency expanded to London in 1998 and Tokyo in 2003. Fallon Lon- don created much-lauded work, including Cadbury’s brilliant 2007 “Gorilla” TV spot, in which a 500pound gorilla pounds a drum kit — pretty impressively — to Phil Collins’ percussion-heavy In the Air Tonight (admit it: you’ve air-drummed to that song).
It had nothing to do with chocolate but it had, you know, a gorilla playing drums.
Current clients include Arby’s, H&R Block and Loctite, a glue for which Fallon produced a memorably weird, reggae-flavoured Super Bowl spot earlier this year.
If you follow American Super Bowl ads, you’ll remember the famous cat herders spot from about 15 years ago.
Featuring real-life cowboys, it meant to convey the complex talents of EDS, a company that, broadly speaking, provided technology services. What it did was akin to herding cats. Bingo. The spot won a slew of awards. A decade later, Fallon was inducted into the American Advertising Federation Hall of Fame.
He served as the agency’s CEO for 27 years and became its chairman emeritus in 2008. “I’m not the type to sit on the beach and grow a ponytail,” Fallon said. “I love the business and I love to compete.”
Which he did, bombing as well. In Juicing the Orange, a 2006 book he co-wrote with Senn, Fallon duly noted the late-’90s Miller Lite campaign designed to attract a younger, hipper market to the beer brand.
One spot featured a group of beerdrinking cowboys in a bar singing “Adios, amigo” as they amble toward the men’s room. Sales stayed flat and Miller dumped Fallon.
Even so, Fallon was saluted after his death by many rivals in the industry. One tweeted that his work “made us insanely stupidly jealous on so many occasions.”
NOV. 25, 2014: