Kara Buckner has returned to Fallon to help write the next chapter of the Minneapolis-based ad agency’s story in a new dual role as managing director and chief strategy officer.

Buckner was a group account director when she left Fallon in 2010 after 13 years. She launched startups, including a consulting practice focused on developing corporate strategic initiatives and consumer insights before returning to Fallon in late July.

Buckner said she couldn’t resist the opportunity to help define and carry out a modern strategic vision under Fallon CEO Rocky Novak.

Novak, the previous managing director, was named CEO in March, succeeding Mike Buchner. Pat Fallon, who founded the agency in 1981 with four partners, died in 2015.

“It won’t be a demure and retrospective tale of a shop that’s resting on its laurels,” Buckner said of the agency’s new narrative. “We believe that apathy is the enemy and being forgettable is unforgivable, for ourselves as an agency but also for our clients.”

Buckner’s responsibilities include overseeing the account-management and account-strategy departments. Her appointment further formalizes the strategy department’s role in running the agency and performing client work. “Creativity needs strategic direction,” Buckner said.

“Kara is a world-class strategist, brand builder, and trusted client partner who knows how to motivate people and inspire powerful ideas,” Novak said in a statement. “She’s a force of nature, and I’m thrilled to have her infectious energy and smarts back at the agency.”

Fallon Worldwide is part of the Paris-based Publicis Groupe. Clients include Anheuser-Busch, Arby’s, Hotwire, Culligan Water, Danone and Massage Envy.

Q: What are your priorities in returning to Fallon?

A: First, to help to set a vision for the agency and the departments that I lead. Second, to put people in the best position to succeed both professionally and personally. That’s an important part of what Fallon is, that comes through in one of our core values, which is family as a business model. The single belief in and devotion to the power of creativity is another. [So is] seeing risk-taking as a friend.

Q: What do those core values mean for clients?

A: Those core values are timeless but the playing field has changed. … Brands are in a fight for consumer attention. But not all of them know it. We want to work with the ones who do, who want to come out fighting. We want to work with the ones who believe that creativity can be this powerful tool to make their brand really sing.

Q: How will your entrepreneurial experience influence your work at Fallon?

A: It gives me a broader understanding and appreciation for the business of business. We can impact business in a much larger way having that broader view. We think of ourselves as a creativity company. But we think about it in terms of creative ideas that can change the destiny of a business and a brand.

Q: What got you into this business?

A: I was a communications and economic analysis major at Gustavus Adolphus. What I love about this business is it’s this wonderful mix of art and commerce. You have to understand the nuts and bolts. But there’s magic in then translating that to creativity and figuring out how creativity can truly impact business results.


Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Lake Elmo. His e-mail is todd_nelson@mac.com.