Online By Design

Like the off-beat ad man “Dick” featured in Fallon McElligott’s irreverent spots for the Miller Brewing Co., Joe Duffy is from a generation that the Gen X target audience might consider “retro.” But at 48, Fallon’s creative director is hardly headed the way of the eight-track tape. As president of Revolv, Fallon McElligott’s official vehicle into the new media industry, he’ll be boldly going where few graphic designers have gone before: into the cyber-frontier of the World Wide Web and other new media.
There’s no doubt that Duffy is a proven talent: Over nearly three decades he has accumulated shelves full of awards for innovative package design, identity work and advertising. He has also produced award-winning new media campaigns for Fallon clients Tidy Cat and BMW.
The question is: Can a big-time traditional-media designer take a sharp creative shop (Fallon chalked up an impressive spate of account wins in 1996, including United Airlines and McDonald’s) to the interactive edge?
“One of the reasons I’m leading this group is because I’ve had a successful, integrated relationship with Fallon,” Duffy says. That relationship has spanned the past 14 years, beginning with the formation of Duffy Design. In 1989, the agency acquired Duffy altogether, selling itself to clients as a multidisciplined agency.
Duffy snickers at the new media navel-gazing he’s observed so far, noting that most online marketing trends toward whiz-bang technology antics or static versions of offline campaigns. “Here we have this exciting new medium and it’s not being utilized.”
Revolv will be more sophisticated, he says, mainly because of its close ties to the account and strategy departments at Fallon. He points to the work that the pre-Revolv team produced for client BMW. To support the debut of the 1998 models, they launched a campaign called CyberDrive, offering Internet users the opportunity to “test drive” the new cars online.
“[The campaign] relates well to what’s being done in the advertising,” Duffy points out, referring to TV spots from Fallon that emphasize performance with the tagline, “Ultimate Driving Machine.”
Duffy, who actually expects CD-ROMs and kiosks to be Revolv’s primary means of reaching consumers, uses a Web metaphor to describe the new firm’s strengths: “[A brand may have] great advertising and packaging, but if the interactive campaign has no relationship to it; there’s no link. That’s the gap we’d like to bridge.”