Fallon in ‘Level Playing Field’ With Y&R on United

New Ads in Production; Client in Midst of ‘Healthy Debate’
CHICAGO–Fallon McElligott is about to go into production on work for United Airlines, which is in search of a successor to the shop’s “Rising” campaign, said sources.
Sources said the shop came up with three concepts, one of which may include the term “Rising” in a new context. The agency’s co-president and creative director, David Lubars, declined to say whether the agency had begun production or sold a new campaign to Elk Grove Village, Ill.-based United.
Brought in to assist were former Hill, Holliday, Cosmopulos, Connors team Ernie Schenck and Jamie Mambro, sources said.
Eric Block, Fallon’s general manager, said a “big focus” will be on the carrier’s new Economy Plus class.
The airline last week acknowledged it had enlisted both Fallon, which handles domestic advertising, and its international shop, Young & Rubicam in New York, to contribute ideas.
One source said the lines between Fallon’s and Y&R’s relationship with the client have blurred to create a “more level playing field.” Y&R officials declined comment. “It’s not clear exactly what might happen next,” one source said. “They’re still going through a very healthy debate internally.”
Fallon officials said their status is not in danger; and the meetings have been a place for the two agencies to keep each other apprised.
“We are both working for the United brand,” Block said. “We’re working on domestic and they’re working on international.”
United would not comment on whether either agency had been given the green light to produce a new campaign, saying it was “not appropriate to talk about production before the launch.”
Some critics said Fallon’s “Rising” campaign was ponderous and esoteric, without a concrete message for the general consumer. Others said the campaign, which aimed to show how United was addressing problems facing the airline industry in general, promised too much.
United spent $62 million on domestic advertising in 1998.