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Fallon London (UK)

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Fallon London, the UK outpost of Publicis-owned Fallon Worldwide, enjoyed spectacular success for much of the 2000s before encountering a series of reverses towards the end of the decade. Performance peaked in 2009, when Fallon London was crowned as the UK's #3 agency by billings. However, the departure of major clients such as Asda and Sony, as well as several senior managers, caused billings to plunge after 2010. Despite the best efforts of a new management team, Fallon has been unable to recoup its losses, even if the rate of client defection has eased a little since 2011. The agency was recast for several years as a satellite of Saatchi & Saatchi London, but a change of strategy saw it realigned at the end of 2017 with another Publicis-owned network, Leo Burnett.

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Fallon London's billings, as estimated by Nielsen (in Campaign), have tumbled from a high of £206m in 2009 to under £16m for 2018. For most of that period, Fallon was yoked with sister agency Saatchi & Saatchi under the banner of the SSF Group. Originally, that partnership was designed to bolster struggling Saatchi. But gradually the two agencies' roles were reversed, with Saatchi getting stronger at Fallon's expense. A number of key accounts transferred to Saatchi, such as Asda in 2007 (until 2013) and Orange in 2012, but others moved elsewhere. Perhaps surprisingly, Fallon London hung on to a place among the UK Top 30, thanks to the support of long-serving clients Skoda and Cadbury's Dairy Milk. However, several other Cadbury brands have gradually drifted away to other agencies, and so finally did Dairy Milk in 2017.

That - combined with the resignation of the CEO at sister agency Leo Burnett London - prompted a major change of strategy at the end of 2017. Fallon London's chief executive Gareth Collins was named as the new chief of Leo Burnett London as well, prompting the dissolution of the Saatchi partnership. At the same time, Fallon moved into Burnett's premises in West London. It can only be a matter of time before the Fallon brand is phased out altogether. Nick Bell is executive creative director of Fallon London.

For 2016, Fallon London Ltd reported billings of £18.2m. Revenue was £6.8m, up 21% on the year before, and a net profit of £1m, after two consecutive years of losses. There were an average of 37 staff.

The agency was founded in 1998 as a joint venture between the main Fallon agency in Minneapolis and a group of British managers, not least former TBWA client director Robert Senior. It enjoyed an exceptionally strong run between 2003 and 2009, picking up a string of substantial clients for whom it delivered consistently superlative creative work. Orange and Sony were just two of the most memorable. There was an impressive performance in 2007, as well, with the capture of the huge Asda supermarkets account, and the launch of the "drumming gorilla" campaign for Cadbury, one of the world's most highly awarded ads that year. Fallon London was named as Campaign's Agency of the Year for both 2006 and 2007, and Nielsen Media Research estimated that UK billings more than doubled in the latter year. They continued to rise steadily over the following two years, peaking in 2009 at £206m, when Fallon was ranked as the UK's #3 agency.

However, that explosive success prompted a number of changes behind the scenes. A corresponding decline in performance at Saatchi & Saatchi London prompted Publicis Groupe management to yoke the two agencies in 2007 under the banner of SSF Group, with Robert Senior - one of Fallon London's three main founding partners - appointed as chief executive of the new entity, overseeing both agencies. To bolster Saatchi's performance, the Asda account was shifted to the larger network. However, other clients, such as Sony - for whom the agency had created several lavish and hugely admired commercials - simply chose to go elsewhere. By late 2009, there were signs that Fallon London's explosive growth had peaked. Three mid-level executives broke away that year to set up their own agency under the name 18 Feet & Rising, and a series of other staff and founders also jumped ship. Perhaps the most significant was Juan Cabral, the creative director responsible for the agency's most influential ads of the previous few years, who returned to his native Argentina. Another, Michael Wall, left to lead Lowe & Partners.

The defection process continued through 2010, culminating in the departure of the two remaining founding partners, Laurence Green and Richard Flintham. Green had succeeded Senior as managing partner of Fallon London while Flintham had replaced Cabral as executive creative director. They took with them SSF Group CFO Steve Waring, setting up their own agency, 101, with Phil Rumbol, former marketing director of client Cadbury.

Following the resignations of Green and Flintham, a new management team was appointed, led by Gail Gallie, previously a head of marketing for the BBC. Yet she was unable to prevent Fallon from being dropped from the BBC's creative roster in early 2011. Several more changes followed. Development director Magnus Djaba was promoted to managing director, but moved across to Saatchi London in Sept 2011. He was eventually replaced by James Townsend. Following Richard Flintham's departure, Augusto Sola was promoted to creative partner, overseeing output. He was joined in 2011 by Santiago Lucero as joint creative partner. Sola left the agency a few months later (also to join breakaway 101), leaving Lucero as sole ECD. The agency also recruited a team of other notable creative directors from other agencies, and David Hackworthy as chief strategy officer.

Gallie resigned in 2014, leaving the agency under the joint leadership of Hackworthy, Lucero and managing director James Townsend. Shortly afterwards, Saatchi UK chief executive Magnus Djaba was appointed as CEO of SSF UK, the local umbrella for Saatchi and Fallon, freeing his predecessor Robert Senior to focus on his other role of EMEA regional director (and later group CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi). Towards the end of 2014, Lucero left the agency and Nick Bell was appointed as overall ECD of Fallon London. Gareth Collins was recruited from AMV BBDO to become CEO in May 2015, following the departure of James Townsend. Nick Bell departed the agency in 2018 following its merger with Leo Burnett.

Last full revision 16th January 2018

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