A tribute to Pat Fallon from Ogilvy & Mather's Adam Tucker
I will never forget the day I interviewed at Fallon Minneapolis in 1995. The energy was palpable when I walked into reception. I was dying to work there.
Pat was running late because he’d just fired Northwest Airlines – a significant client for the agency at the time.
“Why did you fire them,” I asked.
“They treated our people poorly,” Pat responded.
“It must have been a tough decision,” I said.
“It was the easiest decision I’ve made this year,” Pat replied.
This would be one of many clients Pat fired because to protect his people and the culture.
Nothing was more important to Pat than the people who joined the Fallon family. “Family as a business model” is what made Fallon different.
When my client, (the SVP marketing of a major telecommunications brand) was mistreating the team, Pat called the CEO to tell him he’d resign the business if this executive didn’t stop “bullying” the team. It was no surprise then when I learned the SVP was gone within just four weeks.
Fallon was, and remains one of the world’s greatest creative shops. Not only was the agency recognized for their famous and iconic campaigns, but also for putting Minneapolis on the map as a creative hotspot beyond Madison Avenue. Pat was often heard saying, “my secret weapon is my people; great work comes from great people. It’s a competitive advantage for our people to feel part of a close family.”
Pat was a strong-minded, maverick figure in the industry. He was also one of the most down-to-earth, genuinely warm and caring people I ever knew. Pat got to know every single individual of the 600-person strong Minneapolis HQ on a personal level – on a family level. It was a rare, almost impossible skill. We used to joke he had moles deep within the Fallon family.
When Pat learned I was interested in overseas experience, he said “if that’s important to you Adam, we will make it happen”. Six months later I landed at Fallon London.
When Pat learned I was dealing with family issues in the US, he flew to London to take me to dinner to see how he could help. We spoke at length about his own family challenges while growing up. Pat had a sixth sense knowing the precise moments his people needed support.
Pat’s people-first ethos made Fallon a training ground for some of the best in the business; Michael Wall, Rich Stoddart, Robert Senior, Magnus Djaba, Karina Wilsher, David Lubars, Alex Leikikh, Lee Newman, Anne Bologna, Linus Karlsson, Paul Malmstrom, Laurence Green, Andy McLeod, Richard Flintham, Mark Goldstein, Kirsten Flanik, Jamie Barrett, Chris Hirst and many others trained at Fallon. Many of these executives have since gone on to lead iconic agency brands such as, Mother, BBDO, Saatchi, Anomaly, Mullen, Lowe, Goodby, Leo Burnett, Grey (and Ogilvy of course!)
I saved the note Pat wrote when I landed at Ogilvy New York. It reads: “Don’t let the complexity of a new job overwhelm you. Take it apart and look at what needs to be done over what would be nice to get done. Reductionism works. It’s not only good medicine for our clients, but for us as well.”
Poignant, timeless advice.
Pat wrote last summer telling me how proud he was of me after seeing Ogilvy & Mather’s recent Coke Zero win. It’s testament to the fact that once you join the Fallon family, you never leave.
In the sadness and grief of losing Pat, I feel strength in knowing the Fallon family is there to remember him and support each other.
In remembering Pat, we need to celebrate the agency’s awe-inspiring body of work. Even more, remember that Fallon and this beautiful industry is all about the people.
Adam Tucker is president of Ogilvy & Mather Advertising New York