The big win includes the approximately $14 million life insurance account of the Prudential Insurance & Financial Services division.
Lowe & Partners/SMS had held the Prudential account for the past five years.
A big reason for Prudential's switch: image, image, image, said one BBDO insider.
The strategy appears similar to moves by other major corporations-from General Electric Co. to IBM Corp.-to hammer home consistent brand images across diverse product lines.
In the case of Prudential, a modernized version of the rock icon-a corporate symbol since the late 19th century, inspired by the Rock of Gibraltar-is likely to be preserved in the new campaign expected to break in the fall.
Less clear is the fate of the slogan "Get a piece of the rock," which traces its roots back to 1971 when it was first coined by the Ted Bates Agency.
Lord Dentsu Chairman-CEO Dick Lord said: "We heard that we came in second but that Fallon used the rock in their campaign. Apparently, they contemporized the use of the rock and made it more meaningful."
At Prudential, VP-Advertising Mary Lou Sack said it's too early to predict the look of the new creative but she did say the company "wanted to be able to harness the power of its brand across the board for clients in insurance, securities, real estate and managed care."
Ms. Sack also said "the rock is an icon that is recognized by a great number of Americans. It will remain." But she couldn't say exactly how it would be used in the new campaign.
The intimate involvement of Fallon McElligott Chairman Pat Fallon with the account, as well as the upcoming addition of Andy Berlin and a New York presence, were seen as factors that helped tip the scale toward the Minnea-polis-based agency.
But the clincher may have been the shop's insights into the awareness of Prudential's brand across a far-flung empire.
Fallon Managing Director Steven Sjoblad said research indicated that one in five people in the U.S. is involved in some way with a service connected to one of Prudential's divisions.
"We went out into the marketplace, we did new research and we [were able to] turn that into an articulate strategy about what we would do with the brand," he said.
The Prudential account, which increases Fallon's billings to $290 million, is one of the agency's largest.
Iris Cohen Selinger and Laurie Freeman contributed to this story.