Fallon Founder Pat Fallon Dead at 70

'Our Inspiration, Our Fire in the Belly,' Says Fallon CEO Mike Buchner

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Fallon founder Pat Fallon
Fallon founder Pat Fallon Credit: Courtesy of Fallon

Pat Fallon, founder of Minneapolis-based ad agency Fallon, has died at the age of 70.

"Fallon is deeply saddened to announce the death of its founder and chairman Pat Fallon, who passed away with his family at his side on Friday, November 13," an agency spokeswoman said Saturday.

"We are devastated by the loss of our iconic leader," Fallon CEO Mike Buchner said in a statement. "He was our inspiration, our fire in the belly, our eternal conscience and the head of our Fallon family. We will miss him dearly, but are fully committed to living up to the legacy of greatness that he established at the place that bears his name."

The Minnesota-based agency also tweeted from its @fallon handle: "To the man who taught us to care about each other, as much as the work. You are forever in our hearts, Pat."

Mr. Fallon founded the shop in 1981 and over the years became known for its work with big brands like BMW and Cadillac. The agency was named Ad Age's Agency of the Year in 1983 and again in 1995. The agency had valleys as well as peaks, but these days the agency that Mr. Fallon helped build is thriving. The shop prevailed in seven out of the 10 pitches it entered in 2014, including Loctite, Big Ten Network, Truvia and Quicken, and consequently was named Comeback of the Year in Ad Age's most recent Agency A-List honors. A year into its relationship with Arby's, the fast-food brand even bought billboards to thank the shop.

The agency made Minneapolis a creative hotspot and created iconic campaigns such as BMW Films, as well as other memorable work including MTV's "Jukka Brothers," Lee Jeans' "Buddy Lee" campaign, EDS' "Cat Herders" (which many cite as one of the best Super Bowl ads of all time), PBS's "Be More" and Citibank's "ID Lipsynch" campaign, in which identify thieves "possessed" the bodies of unsuspecting victims. In recent years, the agency has experienced a renaissance, turning out another Super Bowl winner for Loctite.

Fallon also went on to become a global creative force, with the London office producing celebrated campaigns such as Sony "Balls," Cadbury's "Gorilla" and Tate Britain's "Create Your Own," the latter two of which went on to win Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Mr. Fallon described the agency in his own words on its website:

Fallon began what the press soon came to refer to as 'the little experiment out in the prairie' in the summer of 1981 -- during a recession and without clients. The glue was five people in their 30s convinced that creativity had no geographic boundaries and that advertising had become stale and formulaic. These five idealists had a shared passion for understanding consumers and their behavior well before it was in vogue to do so. And these same five would-be entrepreneurs shared values and common-sense organizational principles rarely found in business. We boldly announced to the world – and to Madison Avenue – that there was a new agency 'for clients who would rather outsmart the competition than outspend them,' and we still deeply hold to the defining belief of 'more for less' down to the marrow of our bones.

BBDO Global CCO David Lubars, who led Fallon Minneapolis during the BMW Films era, recalled Mr. Fallon as a man with leadership qualities both warm and biting. "Pat was brilliant, charismatic, insightful, hilarious, outrageous, just full of piss and vinegar," he said. "I'm not as sad now as I'm sure I will be because the memories popping up are all funny and crazy. I know exactly what he'd say to anyone who offered a somber tribute -- unprintable here, of course."

Contributing: Ann-Christine Diaz

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