Meet and Greet: Darren Spiller, the new CCO of Fallon, Minneapolis

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Darren Spiller, former Regional ECD of Publicis Mojo last week announced that he'd be leaving the sunny Australian shores to take the reigns of leadership at Fallon/Minneapolis. Creativity checked in with the celebrated leader about his plans in the new post, which he officially starts in June.

What is number one on your agenda at Fallon? What long-term goals have you set?
Obviously to lift the creative profile of Fallon in the U.S. market. To put it back where it belongs. The brand deserves that at least. Over the long-term, it would be my ambition to foster a creative community that people are breaking down the doors to get into. Just being in that department would signal that you've made it.

Have you started working on anything yet?
Yeah, the task of moving 7 very strong-willed individuals to Minneapolis.

What sort of directives have you been given from Chris [Foster, Fallon CEO]?
Lead.

Your most recent post was regional executive creative director/Publicis Mojo.
What, in a nutshell, had been your biggest challenges and what did you learn from them? What experiences do you think/hope will serve you best in your new role?

That sometimes being fresh is the safest option. I think clients sometimes forget that standing still can be a slow death. I think it's our job to remind them of that. Most of these companies in the beginning believed that, otherwise they would never have been successful in the first place.

Do you foresee any cultural barriers in terms of this new role? For example, do you foresee any challenges/differences when it comes to working with U.S. clients versus those you've worked with in Australia/New Zealand?
I think the world is getting smaller; I look at it as a global community. We're all influencing each other on a daily basis and exposure to one another has never been more prevalent. So no, I don't foresee my nationality being a difficulty. I'm a straight talker—people generally appreciate that.

In your bio, you describe yourself as being a populist. Tell me a little bit about that, and how that influences your approach to advertising. In general, how would you characterize your approach to advertising and marketing?
When I talk about being a populist, I mean it in the sense that I don't write ideas for myself. I write them for the people I'm talking to. I think a lot of creatives write stuff they think is cool for no other reason than "it's cool." If it's appropriate to put a track on the piece of communication, I don't choose the piece because it's edgy or cliché, but because the person I'm talking to is going to love it. As a creative person, you should never lose sight of who you are talking to. If you understand the tone of the task at hand, you're already halfway there.

Tell me about some of your favorite all-time projects—why were those your favorites, what did you learn from them?

I'm a big believer in discovering a truth and building the communication around that truth. Some great examples of that would be my Nike Reincarnate campaign for Nike Free, all the Tourism Victoria stuff, Nestlé Drumstick work, and the Nike Stuff History campaign. If you can discover those truths, you can build a very solid foundation for an idea and once done, the client often feels a lot more relaxed about you pushing the limits of its execution.

Advertising today—obviously, we've seen huge movement in the digital arena. Fallon has spearheaded some innovative work in the realm. What are your own thoughts on the role/importance of interactive work and integrated approaches—and do you have any plans to build out the agency in that direction?
There's no doubt interactive is important and today's ad buzz word. But it's not as important as the idea and no medium or execution should ever be a replacement for one. Interactive needs to be put into perspective—it's not the answer to all things; it's today's reality and should always be considered in the thought process. I think all agencies have this area way up on their agendas and it should be.

In Minneapolis, it is highly likely you will not be seeing as much ocean or sun as you did in Australia. How do you feel about this, and how are you preparing yourself and your family for the change?
My kids have to take cold baths every night and are put in front of the open fridge door to towel off. Seriously though, snow will be a novelty for us and in fact, was a draw card. We're just looking forward to the adventure.

You talk [in your bio] about Darren from Bewitched and always wanting to be him. Would that be the Darren played by Dick Sargent or Dick York? Why?
The Bewitched thing was just a joke, but if I had to choose it would be the original because he's the original—but I would prefer not to be associated with anyone called Dick.
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