Pat Fallon's death in November prompted an outpouring of appreciation for the great man, as well as a celebration of the network's ability to produce some of the most iconic ads of all time. However, it also served to underscore the high standards that the eponymous agency has failed to live up to in London for some time now.
Fallon’s year didn’t really get started until May, when it finally hired a new chief executive to replace Gail Gallie, who had left way back in April 2014. The new boss, Gareth Collins, a former managing partner at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, will have his work cut out getting Fallon "back on its pedestal", as he put it.
Collins was soon joined by Jason Knight as the head of planning, who arrived from 180 Los Angeles. Nick Bell’s first full year as Fallon’s creative chief has borne some green shoots of recovery on the work front. "Gone" for Alzheimer’s Society was moving, while the search for a new Milk Tray Man earned the client lots of free media. "Cadvent", the Christmas campaign for Cadbury, was well-received, although one wonders whether a lack of ambition or confidence prevented it from doing more to own the festive period.
Winning a pan-European account for Benecol aside, the agency was quiet in terms of new business and must surely up its game on this front. Losing Maynards, the confectioner and sister brand to Cadbury, was a particular blow.
Fallon now likes to think of itself as a nimbler, boutique agency, as it might after a loss of headcount to 75 – more than a third down on the previous year. But with Collins’ team now in place, there will be nowhere to hide in 2016.
How the agency rates itself: 5
"2015 has been a year of great change. We have a new chief executive, a new head of planning, a new creative director and much improved digital capabilities. We pitched, won and relaunched Benecol across Europe, picked up the Skoda digital business, gave people an understanding of what it is like to have dementia, launched the nationwide search for the new Milk Tray Man and brought 24 days of Joy to the nation over Christmas."
|Type of agency||Creative|
|Company ownership||Publicis Groupe|
|Nielsen billings 2015||£55m|
|Nielsen billings 2014||£64m|
|Total accounts at year end||13|
|Accounts won||1 (Benecol)|
|Accounts lost||2 (biggest: Maynards)|
|Number of staff||75 (-35%)|
|Key personnel||Gareth Collins, chief executive
David Hackworthy, chief strategy officer
Nick Bell, executive creative director
Jason Knight, head of planning
Score key: 9 Outstanding 8 Excellent 7 Good 6 Satisfactory 5 Adequate 4 Below average 3 Poor 2 A year to forget 1 Survival in question
Footnote: *indicates where agencies claim the corporate governance constraints of the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation.