The Player: Bologna positions Fallon NYC as a midsize creative power

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When Fallon, New York, last month bowed its work for new client Virgin Mobile USA, it was a real attention-grabber for agency President Anne Bologna, at the helm for only five months.

"My headline for folks in the office has been think bigger, act small," she said. "It means there's no reason Fallon, New York, can't aspire to any kind of account that fits with the Fallon brand, and the Virgin Mobile [win] is a classic example."

Beset by a succession of challenges-from the dot-com implosion to the Sept. 11 attacks-that has kept the Publicis Groupe-owned agency treading water, the $50 million Virgin account has been both a financial and psychological buoy. "That account basically doubled the size of this office," said Ms. Bologna, who staffers said plugs her ears and puckishly sings "la-la-la-la-la" when anybody focuses on things they can't control.

Besides her infectious optimism, a keen sense of timing and boundless energy, observers point to Ms. Bologna's account management and planning background as key to winning over clients and staff.

"She is a wicked-sharp strategist, but she packages it in a very level-headed, fun demeanor," said Howard Handler, chief marketing officer for Virgin Mobile USA. "The disciplined thinking that, for her, begins with strategy and the ideas all get measured against that. I can tell that's hard-wired into her and that's something we certainly value."

With Fallon for a decade as a planner and director of planning for five years, this is Ms. Bologna's first shot at running an agency. Before that, she spent a decade in account management at Interpublic Group of Cos.' Campbell-Mithun, Minneapolis.

Her background manifests itself every day, said Amy Frisch, general manager of the New York office and group account director on Virgin. "In little things, like trying to get to know the people by sitting down with everybody one-on-one on an ongoing basis is, in a very obvious way, a planner methodology," she said.

For those who questioned whether the lifelong Midwesterner would fit into the Big Apple, Ms. Bologna said four-letter words more frequently pepper her language and that she recently showed up to a meeting in Minneapolis wearing all black, which made her a "walking cliche."

To leverage the spark of momentum, she and David Lubars, Fallon North America president-executive creative director, are working to position the Manhattan outpost of the Minneapolis agency as a midsize creative and strategic powerhouse. "New York is a city of huge agencies with good accounts, but where are the great midsize agencies, like [now-defunct] Ally & Gargano and Ammirati?" said Mr. Lubars.

"The way to be defining and be different is to have defining accounts," he added. "We pitched Virgin, and that's a big-ass defining account, and we got it. "More changes are coming and Anne is the catalyst for that," he added.

"It's about leveraging our `Fallonness' and it just so happens we're living in New York," said Ms. Bologna. "The last five months are just tip of iceberg."

Fast Facts

Name: Anne Bologna

Age: 46

Now: President, Fallon New York

Challenge: To heighten the "Fallonness" of the Manhattan outpost of the Midwest shop

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