MINNEAPOLIS – Pat Burnham’s departure as creative head at Fallon McElligott two" data-categories = "" data-popup = "" data-ads = "Yes" data-company = "[]" data-outstream = "yes" data-auth = "" >

Agency Makes Adjustment For the ’90s Marketplace — Fallon McElligott May Look Outside Of Shop for New Creative Head By Beth Heitzma

MINNEAPOLIS – Pat Burnham’s departure as creative head at Fallon McElligott two

Sources said last week that the agency’s desire to increase the scope of the creative director’s role to include more new business and agency management duties is at odds with the past creative culture established by founding creative director Tom McElligott and nutured by Burnham.
‘If you look at those creatives who have left Fallon, they’ve often left their best work behind and it’s not because they lost their talent,’ said one agency creative head. ‘They lost that unique environment that Burnham fostered that demanded and fought for creative excellence.’
But one Fallon source said the creative teams, many of whom have been with the agency for years, work autonomously and a new creative head would probably not affect the quality of the work.
‘We don’t need a creative director to do good work,’ said the source. ‘We just keep doing good ads and we would want the person that comes in to be someone who would leave us to that.’
The source also said that although a number of senior creatives could handle the job, no one is jockeying for it and internal interest is low because people want to create ads, not join the ranks of management. Phil Hanft, associate creative director, is currently assuming many of Burnham’s duties on an interim basis.
‘Fallon has built a creative department that’s built on pride, comaraderie and a sense of being special,’ said one former creative staffer. ‘The people there are all capable of running that place, but it’s not about titles. It’s about the work first . . . always the work.’
Agency president Steven Sjoblad said that the agency is admittedly adjusting itself to fit the changing marketplace, (by devoting more time and resources to developing sales promotion, direct response and public relations services, to name a few) but that Burnham’s successor will also be someone who fits with the agency’s guiding mission and will protect the core creative capabilities.
‘Senior agency management is in favor of growth,’ said a source close to Fallon. ‘So their biggest challenge, and we’ve seen this over and over again, is not to compromise their creative pedigree. Fallon is probably one of the rare shops that can do it . . . they’ve broken all the rules, thus far, as far as growing while maintaining creative excellence.’
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)