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Historic BMW and Fallon Advertiser-Agency Relationship Comes to an End

Posted by: David Kiley on June 17, 2005

Man Bites Dog. That’s how I felt hearing late Friday afternoon that BMW North American and Minneapolis ad agency Fallon Worldwide parted ways.

Having written a book about BMW, with a deep-dive into Fallon’s work for BMW, I have long considered the work that came out of relationship to be the best in the auto industry, and among the best in any industry. The Internet films, BMWfilms, produced by the partnership was an especially high-water mark for creative and inventive advertising in any category.

Last year, at the Cannes Ad Festival, BMW was named best global advertiser, and Fallon’s work was prominently mentioned high up in the press release from the judges.

BMW sales are strong. The company is rolling. The launch of the new 3 Series and 5 Series have been successful in a difficult market in which BMW is under tremendous pricing and profit pressure because of the weak dollar against the euro.

And there is the rub, methinks. Back in the early 1990s, BMW pulled the rug out from under another great ad agency, Ammirati & Puris, because bean-counters were looking for a lower price charged by the ad agency. Ammirati, when asked to compete for the account against other agencies, declined. Adweek named the agency Agency of the Year for standing up to an advertiser and showing some pride. BMW went to Mullen Advertising of Wenham, Mass., and the work that resulted was a disaster.

BMW has a new marketing chief, Jack Pitney, who successfully put BMW’s MINI brand on the map in the U.S. with great work from Miami ad agency Crispin Porter+ Bogusky. Pitney asked Fallon to compete in a review against other agencies, and ad industry mensch Pat Fallon said, “No Thanks.” My guess is that Fallon won’t be out of the car business for very long.

But where BMW winds up with work as good as what Fallon produced is anyone’s guess.

Reader Comments

Elise Miller

June 24, 2005 2:15 AM

Great Works by you and BMW and Fallon. However could it be 'that all is not lost'. I gave you a link on our advertising discussion board for industry newbies.

thank you, "Trendy"

Igor Berger

July 22, 2005 8:28 AM

I live in Japan and BMW's Mini Cooper is a great selling car! I think BMW really knows how to take advantage of its brand with cross synergies!

BMW should market its motorcycles in Japan to really spread its brand name!

Working in web marketing I believe the best way to market a product is indirectly!


Rob Artisan

April 7, 2007 7:50 PM

Is that the same Jack Pitney that appeared on Michael Moore's The Awful Truth.

When confronted by an ex-former forced worker for BMW who had not been compensated for his wartime suffering at the hands of his company he made the false assertion that German industry had been forced to use slave labour.

Jack said "there are no winners here."

How you can make out BMW was a victim as well is mind boggling.

Well, BMW was a winner for much of the war, making big profits on the back of the misery of others.

When they have slick new campaigns for their latest model they should think that the paltry compensation, probably used to fend off law suits, does not hide the ugly reality for anyone that looks.

geoff King

July 6, 2009 6:38 AM

I own an ad agency in Sydney Australia (Geoffrey King Adverting) I don't understand, given the right budjet, how any great creative mind can't come up with the right campaign.
I dream for that opportunity. Give me the BMW account.
I could be biased as "My BMW becomes part of me each day" sorry cant help myself, that could be a campaign.

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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