Paul Simons: myths and reality at the Star & Garter

Last week Fallon held a reunion party at the legendary Star & Garter based on a) it has been a long standing venue for agency knees-ups and b) it was a walk down memory lane for the Fallon crew as it was one of their agency boozers in the early and glamorous days of the agency.

The Fallon party (below) was up on the 1st floor whilst the ground floor bars were packed like a full sardine tin making it a bit too intimate for some of the advertising crowd. Paul Bainsfair was pushing through the crowd doing his Joe 90 impression flogging tickets for the IPA annual lunch. Trevor Beattie was working the room and saying “Hello Boys” every five minutes just in case we had forgotten. Some wag said “Give it a rest Trev, you are like Ariston, you go on and on and on.”

 

In the snug a few pillars of the past advertising scene were huddled round a table talking about the good old days. There was Sir Frank Lowe, Rupert Howell, Steve Henry arguing about their favourite confectionery products. Sir Frank remarked that every little helps and that a Mars a day helps you work rest and play whereas Steve Henry was having a thoughtful few moments and supported the crumbliest, flakiest chocolate in the world whilst reliving the various scenes in his mind of young ladies enjoying a Cadbury Flake. Rupert was having none of these two propositions saying it was time to have a break so have a KitKat. Suddenly Steve woke out of his dreams and shouted “I’ve been Tango’d”.

A blast from the past walked in, none other than Michael Gold, founder of Gold Greenlees Trott (a hot creative agency in the 80’s for anyone younger than 40, that means most of MAA’s readership!). Anyway Goldy wandered across and reflected on the transient nature of the advertising world. How, for example, back in the last century research departments unscrewed their department name from the door and replaced the sign with ‘Planning’ when the latter had become the new thing, and more recently direct marketing has amended its name to digital marketing because it is the current newish kid on the block. He mused that Analytics may well become Data Insight.

Mike did accept that much of the technological advancement has transformed a wide variety of applications in advertising. He did say about time too as the biggest advance in poster advertising in the second half of the last century was the move from wooden to aluminium ladders.

Neil Christie, boss of Wieden & Kennedy London, was engaged in a private conversation with Johnny Hornby, founder and boss of The&Partnership. Both were at TBWA together. Johnny was heard to say “We’re #2 and we try harder” whereas Neil said “Just do it.” Both of them swung round to have a good look at a very attractive lady who had entered the crowded bar, dropped their conversation and headed towards the young lady. Both of them have reputations for being exceptionally smooth operators with Johnny probably being a nose ahead on the lounge lizard stakes.

He approached the target with speed and precision and asked “Were you truly wafted here from Paradise?” In a strong estuary accent she replied “Nah, Luton airport”. Johnny did a sideways move leaving Neil to buy the young lady a drink.

Post Script

Robert Senior was one of the original line-up at Fallon along with Michael Wall, both had been at Simons Palmer and latterly part of the merged entity with TBWA where I was group chairman. One day at our shiny new building in Great Whitfield Street I tried calling Robert but no answer came so asked his assistant where he was, the US was the answer. So I tried Michael, got the same response and I’m thinking: what are those two naughty boys doing in the US at the same time?

I asked Robert’s assistant for a contact number as ! needed to speak to him about an issue on Nike, called the number which turned out to be a hotel in Minneapolis. The only fact I knew about this city was that it was the home of Fallon McElligott. I then called the hotel back, asked for a voicemail for Robert’s room and left a message suggesting he and Michael came to see me when they returned to London. Ha ha, must have been a shocker to be caught out. We helped them with the start up of Fallon London and Robert in particular has remained a friend, with equal admiration for Michael from my point of view.

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About Paul Simons

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Paul joined Cadbury-Schweppes in brand management and then moved to United Biscuits. He switched to advertising in his late 20s, at Cogent Elliott and then Gold Greenlees Trott. He founded Simons Palmer Denton Clemmow & Johnson in the late 80s, one of the leading creative agencies of the 90s. Simons Palmer then merged with TBWA to create a top ten agency. Paul then joined O&M as chairman & CEO of the UK group. After three years he left to create a new AIM-quoted advertising group Cagney Plc. He is now a consultant to a number of client companies. Paul also shares his thoughts on his blog. Visit Paul Simons Blog.