Former Fallon Staffers Launch Shop

CHICAGO Two former Fallon executives have partnered to launch a creative boutique.

The agency, called Brew: A Creative Collaborative, will be headed by former Fallon Minneapolis executive creative director Bruce Bildsten and Michelle Fitzgerald, who was director of connection planning.

The Minneapolis startup’s mission, according to Bildsten, is to establish a network of people who can assemble “best-in-class” creative ideas across all touch points for clients. As such, the agency is taking an unbundled approach to media.

“We feel that a broader range of solutions needs to be brought to the table from the beginning, and we think this structure will allow for that,” Bildsten said. “At traditional agencies, things can tend to get a bit siloed.”

As executive creative director at Fallon’s Minneapolis headquarters, Bildsten oversaw the agency’s groundbreaking online film series for BMW, winning the Grand Clio in 2002 and the first Cannes Titanium Lion the next year.

A two-time Emmy winner, Bildsten spent 21 years at Fallon. He resigned last fall, saying he wanted to be in charge of his own shop. (Fallon earlier in the year hired Paul Silburn to run the department; his tenure there lasted less than a year.)

Fitzgerald helped launch Fallon’s fledgling communications planning discipline, which looks beyond traditional media for innovative ways to connect brands and consumers, in 1999, one of the first such practices in the country. As director of connection planning, Fitzgerald helped create the Internet reality program Brawny Academy, as well as Nordstrom’s Silverscreen, which attempted to develop music videos as a venue for commerce.

“Our emphasis is on the new space and that’s what brought us together,” Bildsten said. “That’s where our passions lie. Advertising will be in the media mix, but our real focus is on new ways to use media.”

Brew has begun working for undisclosed clients on a project basis, Bildsten said. The shop has no immediate plans to create a large permanent staff, though it’s likely the core partnership will eventually include senior media and interactive positions.

The agency’s name is meant to reflect the way the shop approaches its work: “infuse, ferment and distill,” Fitzgerald said. “We infuse creativity into research, and then we’ll sell the ideas that are the most meaningful and powerful.”