Maybe they wanted to buck the trend. Clients are mainly leaving Fallon at the moment, big clients like Sony and Asda. And you've gotta wonder whether Kraft are going to want to spend quite as much money on whimsy as the Quakers of York (who are reportedly out of their minds on Miaow Miaow the majority of the time).
In the past French Connection sold bland clothes to violent men who use hair gel and women who get drunk and vomit on their own shoes using Trevor Beattie's show-stopping typo: FCUK. This was so successful that it became ubiquitous on the beer guts and cantilevered breasts of the above group and they basically hate themselves and so they started to hate the brand.
Some of the Fallon FCUK stuff seems basically ok. Can't argue with this for instance:
That definitely is the woman in that picture yes. And ok, it's rather boring, but it's a bit like the Fred and Farid Wrangler stuff, or the new Levis America stuff in trying to make a strong statement. In fact, fashion brands have always done this, only using photography, rather than headlines or strap lines. So, for instance, Paul Smith's styling has always been 'classic with a twist', but no one ever wrote, 'CLASSIC WITH A TWIST' on one of his ads. The Wrangler ads without the end line sort of say 'WE ARE ANIMALS' or 'WE ARE MAKING A STUDENT FILM'. So with out the headline this ad is just a picture of some bird in a mac. But I digress...
Ok, right so now you're saying something about the qualities of masculinity you're going for. Beard, rabbit ears, t-shirt, the man doesn't give a shit right? Ok. Sort of. But then I'm passing French Connection in Covent Garden the other day and I see this:
Now what they're clearly trying to do is develop a new, thrusting tone of voice for FCUK. What they've actually done is to write gibberish. This is interesting because for me Fallon have always had a strange relationship with language and meaning. When you think about it, the defining characteristic of most of their advertising is that it literally doesn't make any sense.
And that has a place in advertising, because when people are constantly sent meaningful messages sending them some meaningless ones looks sort of whimsical and interesting and exuberant. In fact the only thing Fallon seem to guarantee their clients is that nothing they do will make any sense. Or maybe it will sort of make sense. Or maybe the agitating thing is the extent to which is doesn't make sense.
Anyway, why pay an ad agency to write your headlines when you could just go through the subject lines in your SPAM file and pick out whatever gibberish you find there and give 2 million quid to charity and then PR the whole the thing for kudos? Ask you I do.