Pat Fallon RIP

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Distinguished American adman Pat Fallon – a man who came from poor beginnings to become a pioneer of creative advertising – died suddenly in the US at the weekend, aged 70. The cause of his death was a stroke.

“Without a single client on its books, Pat Fallon’s fledgling company ran a full-page ad in the local newspapers announcing itself as a national ad agency,” reads an obituary in his hometown newspaper, the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“It was a risky — and expensive — move that launched the business on a global scale, attracting trophy accounts and proving that Minnesotans could compete with the big-city firms out East.”

Fallon co-founded the Fallon agency (originally called Fallon McElligott Rice) and for more than three decades, stood at the helm of the agency, producing unconventionally witty and eloquently phrased ads that came to define their campaigns, including Perception Reality for Rolling Stone, Cadbury Schweppes Gorilla, and Sony Bravia Balls.

His oldest child, Kevin Fallon said: “You didn’t have to be in New York or on Madison Avenue to be creative, to be successful in the industry.”

The agency was founded by five ambitious 30-somethings during the 1981 recession, said the Star Tribune obit. Within a few years, they landed the Wall Street Journal as a client, signalling their legitimacy to the rest of the world, said co-founder and longtime friend Fred Senn.

In 1983, Fallon was named Ad Age’s ad agency of the year. In 2000, Fallon sold the agency to Publicis Group.

He retired as ceo in 2008 but remained as the company’s chairman emeritus.

“We are devastated by the loss of our iconic leader,” said ceo Mike Buchner, who spent his entire career working under Fallon’s direction. “He was our inspiration, our fire in the belly, our eternal conscience and the head of our Fallon family.”

Fallon grew up poor in north Minneapolis and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a philosophy degree in 1967. He often joked that he changed from pursuing teaching to becoming an adman because he was “sick of being broke”.

He is survived by his five children, Kevin, Megan, Duffy, Reilly and Tressa; grandson Leo and girlfriend Maggie Romens.

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