By Steve Driggs
We just lost one of the true advertising greats. Pat Fallon.
I was lucky to have worked at Fallon from 1997-2006 to work with Pat and experience one of the golden ages of advertising. He was a driving force for the business but also knew almost everyone personally. He set the values that not only shaped an incredible company, but shaped a generation of advertising people. Fallon was different than any other agency. He bucked the trends and changed an industry. Here’s some of the core beliefs he established… and lived by:
1. Outsmart, not outspend. This was Fallon’s long-standing core value. He proved over and over that a great idea can beat a great budget.
You can thrive anywhere. He never thought that you had to be in New York or LA to do great work. In an early recruitment ad, Fallon simply showed where all the creative legends lived and how cheap their nice houses were. It was such a radically simple approach. It worked for me.
3. Fire the assholes. In his book Juicing the Orange, this was one of his main doctrines. He didn’t have time for ego. It was amazing to work in a top-tier agency where respectability was respected and where nice guys had a fighting chance.
4. Family as a business model. He took family principles and made them company policy. I had kids number 3 and 4 while working at Fallon and we were given eight weeks of paternity leave (much to Amy’s chagrin, I only used about four) but eight weeks! That’s an incredible policy. In respect for family, it wasn’t always about staying late (we still did); what was important was treating each other like family.
5. Titles don’t matter. When some of the advertising legends like Bob Barrie and Tom Lichtenheld proudly kept the “Art Director” title when they could have worked as a CD anywhere, it didn’t make sense to buck for a promotion. “Directing great art”: that’s what was honored for Art Directors.
6. Creativity as a business multiplier. Pat wasn’t a creative but he still gave us space and time to let the creative process happen. He believed in the power of creativity. He believed creativity exponentially multiplied your media spend. He protected the process. He nurtured the work.
7. You can do more than you think. He believed in the power of the individual. He believed that excellence would win out in the end. I was consistently amazed by what we could accomplish over a few days on a pitch when we dug deep. When I was leaving Fallon to become a partner at a start-up agency, he told me that it’s a lot harder than anyone thinks… but that he believed I could do it. I barely could. And I leaned on Pat’s faith in me more than once.
A few years ago, a bunch of us creatives sent in our Clios and One Show pencils and Cannes Lions to have them melted down and made into this massive plaque.
I know we melted down our awards, but somehow instead, I feel like all the goodness of Fallon was melted into me.
I am Fallon.
Thank you Pat. I wouldn’t be the same without you.