Editorial: Why Fallon's first decade has echoes of the old CDP

There's poignancy in the fact that in the week it emerged that CDP, one of the most famous names in UK advertising, is about to be killed off, Fallon was celebrating its tenth birthday.

If any agency can be said to have picked up the invisible baton passed on by the one-time Collett Dickenson Pearce, that agency must surely be Fallon.

The parallels are readily apparent. Both have produced bodies of work that will be talked about many years hence; both, in their respective eras, have shown such supreme self-confidence as to border on arrogance; both have taken a robust attitude towards clients, preferring not to pitch for business (or even, in CDP's case, to ditch it) if it didn't match the agency's ethos.

There, though, the similarities appear to end. CDP was born at a far less complex time. It could afford to take a barnstorming approach because clients were generally far more compliant. They didn't quite understand how agencies worked their sorcery but were prepared to indulge them. Of course, it helped that commercial TV could still deliver audiences on a massive scale and effectiveness measurement was still in its relative infancy.

Moreover, there's the consolidation factor to consider. CDP could afford to take a swashbuckling approach largely because it was UK-centric with no shareholder expectations to satisfy or holding company financial targets to hit.

It's intriguing to imagine the situation if CDP was still around and, like Fallon, still on top form. Would a CDP holding company, as Publicis Groupe is now doing with Fallon in London, be looking to one of its star performers to spread its magic across its networks?

Such an approach may be understandable but, as the feature on page 26 points out, care must be taken lest talent gets spread too thinly. The danger is that in trying to extend the Fallon culture, you damage it. Fallon, like CDP, was a result of the right people coming together at the right time. Burden it with too much responsibility and it may buckle under the weight.


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