How Fallon Got the Upper Hand

Fallon’s creative reel, Midwestern sensibility and personal client connections were all factors in Gateway’s expected decision to award the shop creative duties on its $250 million account, sources said.

Gateway in November began contacting agencies, looking beyond incumbent McCann-Erickson Worldwide [Adweek, Dec. 18]. Since then, the client has talked to at least six shops, including Fallon, Arnold Worldwide in Boston, Siltanen/ Keehn in El Segundo, Calif., and DiMassimo Brand Advertising, New York, sources said.

Gateway, whose founder Ted Waitt last month returned as CEO and immediately brought in new management, declined to confirm Fallon’s appointment. “We are still discussing our ad-agency business,” manager of consumer initiatives Greg Lund said.

But sources said the company, which started in Sioux City, S.D., and is now based in San Diego, was wowed by Fallon’s reel and Minneapolis sensibility. “Gateway is an intensely Midwestern culture,” an executive said. “So is Fallon.”

Fallon may have also been helped by connections with Gateway vice president of advertising Stuart Redsun, who while at Nike had worked with agency creatives Jamie Barrett and Bob Moore.

Gateway initially approached shops about a creative project, but the recent Waitt-led housecleaning quickly shifted the conversations to encompass the entire account.

Waitt was disappointed with McCann’s work, which the client found to be “more corny than folksy,” one source said. Gateway officials also had grown dissatisfied with McCann’s level of service since the shop won Microsoft in 1999, sources said.

McCann won the business shortly after Jeffrey Weitzen joined Gateway in January 1998. Weitzen resigned from Gate way two weeks ago. The company dismissed the agency late last week.

Fallon is in negotiations with the client to handle the account out of its New York and Minneapolis offices. Universal McCann handles planning and buying, but sources said a media review is likely. “There has been no determination on a media move,” Lund said.

—with Rebecca Flass

and Andrew McMains