Fallon set to expand globally following Publicis acquisition

The sale of Fallon McElligott to Publicis climaxes a story that began with an abortive phone conversation across the Atlantic four years ago.

The sale of Fallon McElligott to Publicis climaxes a story that

began with an abortive phone conversation across the Atlantic four years

ago.



In despair of the foundering relationship with True North, his US-based

global partner, Maurice Levy, the Publicis president and chief

executive, called from Paris to talk with Pat Fallon, founder of the

Minneapolis shop.



Levy had concluded that the True North alliance was doomed and that

other options needed to be explored if Publicis was to gain the credible

US presence vital for its transformation into a global player.



His intention was to seek a US shop that Publicis could absorb. In fact,

with this deal, Fallon will retain its separate identity, providing a US

cultural counterbalance to its FCA-BMZ subsidiary.



Today, Levy acknowledges that Fallon was right to spurn his initial

overture - ’We agreed to meet only when the time and the offer was

right’ - and that the deal on which the pair shook hands in New York

less than a fortnight ago reflects his change of heart about swallowing

the agency whole.



It was Fallon’s determination to retain his agency’s autonomy that ended

contact between the parties and it was not until July last year that he

and Levy met for the first time. Their matchmaker was somebody Levy

describes as ’a good friend’ - thought to be a former True North board

member - who believed the fit was neat and the time had come.



After a five-hour meeting with Fallon, Levy thought so too. ’The

chemistry was fantastic,’ he said. ’Pat and I understood each other

immediately. He isn’t only charismatic but a great adman and I felt his

passion. Going around the agency, you feel its creativity and its

vibrancy. I quickly decided it had something so special that you

couldn’t break it up.’



Fallon is equally convinced that the agency has found a soulmate after

years of constant courting by other networks. ’Publicis is the first

worldwide network to really understand our brand and truly respect us

for us,’ he said.



Having agreed to preserve Fallon’s independence, Publicis now intends to

exploit it by extending the US shop’s presence beyond Minneapolis, New

York and London to Asia Pacific and Latin America. ’We’ll be giving

Fallon maximum support to develop its network the way it wants,’ Levy

promised.



Both parties are keen for the expanded Fallon operation to mirror a

high-tech age that has negated the need for a universal global presence

- or what Fallon described as ’an outdated business model where more

offices in more places and more people thrown at an account is

considered better’.



Meanwhile, Levy has ruled out any imminent attempt at another major US

acquisition after his failed hostile bid for True North - in which it

retains a 10 per cent stake - three years ago. ’We’ve no plans,’ he

insisted.



’We’re not trying to be big just for the sake of it.’



Nor does he reject the idea of Publicis and Fallon competing in pitches

such as the one in the UK at the end of last year in which Publicis

defeated its new ally for pounds 10 million worth of Worthington’s

business. ’It will add some spice to our lives,’ he said.



PUBLICIS

1927

Founded by Marcel Bleustein Blanchet

1940

Closed during WWII

1946

Agency reopens

1965

Wins Renault

1971

Maurice Levy joins

1972

London office opens

1981

New York office opens

1988

Global alliance with FCB is formed

1996

Divorce from FCB’s True North parent

1998

Acquires US hotshop, Hal Riney & Partners

2000

Acquires Fallon McElligott

Key clients Renault, Nestle L’Oreal, Hewlett-Packard,

Whirlpool


FALLON MCELLIGOTT

1981

Five partners set up agency in Minneapolis

1984

Wins Advertising Age’s agency of the year

1986

O&M buys a majority share in Fallon, via its subsidiary Scali McCabe

Sloves

1992

Buys itself back from WPP, which acquired O&M after Scali deal

1995

New York office opens

1998

Sets up London office with five partners who together own 40 per cent of

the shares

Key clients Lee Jeans, BMW of North America, Holiday Inn, United

Airlines, Starbucks



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