On Monday a certain very senior Broadcast Producer walked up to my desk and told me that Fallon had won the Chrylser account. I laughed it off, to be honest. Well, I laughed it off after checking Agency Spy.
Then in the shower on Tuesday morning I commented to the pre-wife, who was puttering around the bathrooom getting ready for work, that I had heard above rumor…and we got a little bit excited because, goddamn it, there is nothing like a big account win to turn these dark economic times into times of excessive celebration.
And I haven’t been drunk in a while.
Then this afternoon while I was sitting on a painful creative call, Facebook lit up. And when that happens you just know the rumor you have resisted talking about is true. 1,000 ad types can’t be wrong. Right?
So I am heading out of the office to find some other advertising-loving Minneapolitans to celebrate some good news for the city’s industry and to handicap our own hopes that we might get requested for a money-spinning gig with the shop’s now-biggest client.
Drinks are on the Fallonites.
There is nothing like baseball season…even if you don’t love baseball there is so much to commend to it from the lazy, sunny days of summer to the Americana feel of the snap of the mitt as two people play catch. It’s kitschy, it’s classic, it’s the best game ever invented and it’s the subject of innumerable ad campaigns for brands that want a little borrowed interest or need to reinforce themselves as a “hometown brand.”
Line Nuveen Investments in their new campaign from Fallon:
There used to be a time that Fallon would not tout something like this…not because the work is bad, these ads are just what they are: regional ads that tie one brand to a partner brand. They are nicely traditional and recognizably Cubbie and just sort of are. And that is the point. They are regional ads that do what they need to do quickly and efficiently.
There was a time when, whatever the merits of the Nuveen campaign (and my Chicago-based sister just loves ads), it just wouldn’t be news.
The word on the street is that Fallon’s Minneapolis office is down to around 75 people from around 400 a mere five years ago. It is sad news and it leaves observers in Minneapolis in a bit of a pickle.
Everyone likes to indulge in a little schadenfreude from time to time, taking sweet and delicious enjoyment in the precipitous fall of an agency that had been flying so high for so long.
Interestingly, the ex-Fallonites that I have spoken too are among those taking the least pleasure in the agency’s decline….even though who were caught up in the massive layoffs following the loss of most of the agency’s account. On the one hand, this feeling is self-serving. Fallon is on their resume as much as their alma mater is. Just like you want your alma mater to get more selective after you leave, you want your old agencies to do well if only because it makes you look like you are that much better. On the other hand, they are genuinely disappointed at what happened to the shop. A lot of people drank the Fallon kool-aid, not just because the agency did great work, but because the agency put Minneapolis advertising on the map. It is hard to watch them fade.
There is a lot of hiring going in Minneapolis as Olson + Company, Colle + McVoy and Carmichael Lynch in particular try to digest big account wins.
A common complaint, however, is that it is harder to attract talent from other parts of the country since Fallon started their downward spiral. Other agencies in town may be growing by leaps and bounds and doing excellent work, but Fallon is still the headlining shop in the city and with them down out-of-state prospects just don’t have Minnesota on the top of their list of possible destinations.
There is also a little bit of the “Austin Syndrome” where prospects have a niggling fear that should things not work out at whichever agency they move to that there will be no other shops to get work at unless they move back home. The worry is baseless, at least in Minneapolis, but that sort of niggling fear tends to keep prospects at home, making it tougher for Minneapolis agencies to get fresh blood.
Though there are occasional comments that delight in Fallon’s humbling, most of the commentary around the Twin Cities is hopeful that they will right the ship.
Today is the last day for Fallon Minneapolis’ 50 South Sixth Street office. As of Monday morning they will be back in the AT&T Building, where they had been located from 1991 to 2001…it’s a nice building that kind of looks like an artichoke:
Fallon moved into five floors of the 50 South Sixth Street building during the good old days when it looked like they were going to hit 1,000 employees and $1 billion in revenue in Minneapolis. Things didn’t quite go to plan and slowly but surely the building started to empty out.
First it was one empty floor and then another, following the expected progression until they picked up and moved back to the old office.
But it’s not quite the same old office.
Instead of moving back to the AT&T Tower penthouse, where the agency had been, they are moving to some floors lower down. Sure, they have done a good job in making those floors look nice and respectably ad agency-like, but this is a real step down.
Things have been looking up in the Minneapolis agency scene with the exception of one place…Fallon. The good people there are doing everything they can to shake the recent losing streak, from moving offices (though that was sort of driven by the fact that they had multiple empty “ghost floors” at 50 South Sixth) to going on a Goodby-raiding hiring spree, to this:
You Are Fallon is a website that invites all creatives who worked at the agency in its 26 years of existence to donate an award that they won and have it melted down into a “We Are Fallon” copperplate.
Pretty cool idea.
Even cooler if you go to the site and click on the “who has donated” link to see the famous names and famous campaigns from the agency.
Last year Traveler’s Insurance paid an undisclosed but surely hefty amount of money to buy back their umbrella logo from Citi after a complicated merger, sale, etc had separated it from the original owner.
Now that the umbrella is back home in Hartford (well, technically in St Paul as St Paul Companies bought Travelers…and then took their name), it’s time to re-brand Travelers.
Interestingly Fallon was Citi’s agency of record during the years that it owned the umbrella and they are the agency of record for Travelers, new owners of said umbrella, and get to brand a company all over again with the same logo. I think that you would agree that they did a good job:
Insurance sort of is what it is: a hedge against a bad day. The use of the umbrella as the device that saves the day when the going gets rough is a nice way to integrate the icon into the company’s reason to be. It certainly fits for Travelers more than it did over the mega-conglomerate Citi.
I also like the children’s storybook style of the spot, though it definitely tempted me to make some sort of off-color joke about an aging Englishman and the little kids he plays with before whisking them away on his umbrella. The style, music and writing are a nice way to humanize Travelers and the umbrella, especially with the Citi baggage attached to it.
This spot makes it less a New York, glass-tower, big-time banker icon and more of the Midwestern, we’re here for you icon that Travelers surely wants it to be.