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Fallon McElligott Berlin, New York, begins work on its first international assignment this week, while its sister agency in Minneapolis considers options for overseas expansion.

The New York shop won the $10 million Bankers Trust New York Corp. account last week. The commercial bank will look to Fallon McElligott Berlin for overseas advertising, including some in foreign languages.

Merkley Newman Harty was the previous agency.


The win was Fallon McElligott Berlin's ninth in 10 tries since opening a year ago, and gives its part-owner, Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, a key building block for international growth.

For Fallon McElligott, whose roster is full of international marketers using the agency almost exclusively in the U.S., beefing up overseas is a looming priority.

The problem is capital. Staunchly independent after buying itself back from WPP Group in 1993, Fallon McElligott is healthy but isn't flush with cash.

"Ideally, we want to reinvent the concept of an international network," Chairman Pat Fallon said. "There's got to be a better way than having an office in every country."

Mr. Fallon said international expansion is almost always on the agenda at agency board meetings.

At one recent gathering he outlined possible ways to generate capital, said executives familiar with the meeting. Those options included a public stock offering, joint ventures or reselling the agency to a holding company.


Fallon McElligott Berlin was opened as a test; Mr. Fallon wanted to see if his agency could export its brand and culture to another market without having total control. He also views New York as a step toward Europe.

"This agency was set up as a port to the world" for Fallon McElligott, said Andy Berlin, chairman-creative director of the New York shop. "We will aggressively look for other international clients, too."

The new account gives Fallon McElligott Berlin annualized billings of about $50 million.

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