Fallon Elevates Fitzgerald

Connection planners were few and far between in the ad industry when Michelle Fitzgerald took the title at Fallon five years ago—she was among the agency’s first staffers in that role. Even within the Minneapolis shop, there was a lot of head-scratching over the discipline, which combines the work of account planning and media planning, the 32-year-old Minnesota native said.

“We were essentially starting this practice in the United States,” said Fitzgerald, who recently was promoted to director of connection planning at the Publicis Groupe shop. “The first two years were the most challenging in developing this discipline.”

Connection planning has grown since then, both at Fallon and in the industry. Fallon clients such as Lee, BMW and Virgin Mobile have used the discipline, and more agencies have begun similar practices, including TBWA\Chiat\Day and Starcom MediaVest Group.

Fitzgerald will oversee Fallon’s five North American connection planners and will watch the industry for new developments in the practice. She succeeds Doug Holroyd, who left for McKinney + Silver in May 2003. Fitzgerald reports to Rob White, president of Fallon Minneapolis, who called her a “pioneer” in connection planning.

“She’s a good conceptual strategic thinker and has got immense passion for the discipline,” said White.

After earning a degree in journalism from the University of San Diego, Fitzgerald returned to Minnesota, working in media sales for Alternative Press. She joined Fallon as a media planner in 1993.

Fitzgerald, who is training for a half-marathon in May, does some of her thinking during outings with a small agency running group. “Some of our best ideas have been conjured up while enjoying the fresh air,” she said.