There’s good news for Fallon and Mother this week. And when could we last have written that sentence?
Fallon has a new chief executive after a year (and more) of drifting. I’d never heard of Gareth Collins before Fallon sniffed him out at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO but, having met him, he seems a very straight, smart guy, slick without being in the least bit oily and unfazed by the suggestion that perhaps Fallon has simply had its day.
"I’m pretty confident we can regain Fallon’s challenger position," Collins says. It would be great to believe that’s possible. We miss the hungry, slightly cocky but always challenging and exciting spirit that characterised Fallon in its heyday and resulted in some of the best creative work to come out of the UK so far this century.
Creativity is only worth pursuing if it drives a client's business but, sometimes you just have to believe in it
One of those people who drove that hungry, cocky, challenging culture at Fallon is now joining Mother. Mother has been circling the formidably driven and determined Michael Wall for years; as the agency group and the demands upon it have become more complex, the need for a tough business sinew to pump alongside the creative muscle has become increasingly apparent.
Though Mother has lost none of its creative spark, it seems to have fired a little less often in recent years and the once-exciting tangible sense of momentum has slowed. Nevertheless, Mother remains a powerfully intuitive agency with outstanding creative integrity in its DNA. And there are so, so few agencies you can say that about any more. As an industry, we’ve too often allowed instinctive creativity to be overshadowed by the charade that everything we do can be rigorously measured and proven. It can’t. As Simon James writes on page 17, the failure of the pollsters to track and predict public political sentiment in the election is "a pyrrhic victory for creative directors everywhere… research is fallible".
By trying too hard to convince clients to buy and evaluate campaigns on pseudo scientific metrics and short-term, often meaningless measures, the emphasis has been too much on the science and not enough on the magic; creativity isn’t a science, but it can create jaw-dropping magic. Lose sight of that and agencies are in danger of losing the art of persuasion and sheer self-belief that marks them out from brands’ commodity suppliers.
Of course, creativity is only worth pursuing if it drives a client’s business but, sometimes, you just have to believe in it and persuade your clients to believe in its transformative powers. And you have to be bloody good to pull this off, to avoid some of the useless creative wank that sometimes results from unfettered creativity that seems to exist for its own sake. But the sheer bloody-minded belief in creative instinct is what made/makes Fallon and Mother – and their clients – great.