Agency Profile: Fallon New York

If opposites attract, then Fallon New York may be onto something with its current national advertising campaign on behalf of Starbucks. Known as the “Duality Campaign,” Fallon’s effort is using national cable, print and outdoor to promote Frappucino — a bottled coffee-and-milk mixture — and Starbucks DoubleShot, a concoction of espresso and cream in a can. Designed for the North American Coffee Partnership, a joint venture between coffee retailer Starbucks and soft drink giant Pepsi-Cola, the campaign is Starbucks’s first coordinated national ad drive.

The “duality” moniker came about because Fallon New York creative types had to figure out how to promote two seemingly incompatible brands to the same audience. “Bottled cappuccino is considered a relaxing beverage, while espresso automatically signals stimulation, so we had two product elements that were polar opposites, and designed the creative around that tension,” says Mark Strong, account director at Fallon New York.

The national TV spots consist of two 15-second commercials played back-to-back that highlight the differences between the two products. The campaign is running on cable networks MTV, VH-1, E! Entertainment Television, Country Music Television, TLC and Style. Consecutive page print ads have been placed in lifestyle magazines such as Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and Jane.

The unorthodox work is but the latest for feisty Fallon, an agency that prides itself on doing the unusual. Given the challenge of building business for Archipelago, the Chicago-based electronic stock exchange, Fallon’s Minneapolis office spent 10 days designing a guerrilla campaign to attract the attention of Wall Street traders who were grousing over a New York Stock Exchange decision to change the pricing increment for securities to a penny, instead of the traditional 12 cents.

With a limited $250,000 budget leaving little for traditional advertising, Fallon’s creative gurus devised an unconventional plan to drop pennies over the floors of New York subway stations and along sidewalks trod by the traders Archipelago was trying to reach. Fallon hired marchers to carry picket signs, hung WW II–style propaganda posters, and wrapped an armored truck with the client’s logo and sent it careening through the streets of lower Manhattan.

“Because we knew the Archipelago brand was considered maverick and outrageous, we knew we could get away with it,” says Lisa Seward, media director at Fallon Minne-apolis. Traffic to the client’s trading website soared more than 300% in the weeks following the campaign.

In another unorthodox move, Fallon advisers once told client United Airlines to limit its advertising because research showed that the target audience felt it was being bombarded by undifferentiated airline ads.

“Our job is not to make ads, our job is to use creativity to solve business problems,” says Seward in describing Fallon’s philosophy. The first step, she says, is to dig deeply into the client’s business and target audience. The knowledge generated gives the agency near carte blanche in terms of creative freedom.

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