With the global account for the iconic Czech car brand Skoda and new clients like Asahi, Fallon Prague is in the fast lane
When Colin Lamberton first headed to Prague to help set up a new Fallon office, he thought he’d be there for six months. Enough time to get things going for their big global account for Czech car brand ŠKODA, enjoy the beer and bohemian architecture and head back home to Amsterdam. Three years later, the executive creative director is still there, working on all manner of exciting work for ŠKODA – Alaskan adventures and VR experiences for Chinese motor shows – as well as building work for new clients, like beer brand Birrel and its holding company Asahi. Their recent campaign, from Fallon Prague Creative Director Atila Martins is a clever one-shot piece of in-camera trickery.
“The first year was getting it running, basically. The second year was tuning the engine and the third year we started looking at other clients and doing more interesting digital stuff like the VR and AR,” says Colin.
These days the agency is about 60 people-large and a mix of 20 nationalities, with talent coming from the likes of Ukraine and Lithuania – and as far afield Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. The positioning is very much ‘the international agency’ in the city – the lingua franca in the office is English.
In that time the agency has hit its stride and built up some great work for ŠKODA and its other clients. Possibly its most delightful has been the series of ‘naming’ projects, developed by creative team Michael Pfeiffer-Belli and Anthony Underhill. It have seen the brand forge an unexpected friendship with the Alaskan city of Kodiak. The first film, launched in the spring of 2016, saw the city rename itself Kodiaq for the launch of the eponymous ŠKODA model. They returned to Alaska in 2017 to ask the locals to help name a new ŠKODA SUV, the Karoq.
As a result there’s an unofficial ‘twin town’ situation between Prague and Kodiak – and we’re sure we haven’t seen the last of the Alaskan city in ŠKODA’s marketing. “The mayor became a star in her way, because she came to the launch of the Kodiaq and she gave the head of ŠKODA a key to the city,” recalls Colin.
One area that Fallon Prague is increasingly exploring is VR and AR. They’ve been busily developing a couple of projects for ŠKODA - but last year they put the pedal to the metal with their ‘Vision E’ experience. A couple of months before the Shanghai Motor Show the agency was briefed to create a virtual experience of the new concept car as there were concerns that the physical model of the car might not be built and transported to China in time. “In the end they got the car there anyway but the car is on the stand and this gives people a chance to experience it a little bit more,” says Colin.
The close relationship with ŠKODA certainly keeps the team at Fallon busy with the steady schedule of new model releases. The agency creates all the brands global work and helps out with some local markets too.
According to Colin, for creatives working in the city is particularly inspiring. He splits his time between Amsterdam and Prague and a side-by-side comparison reveals a free-spirited artistic town, where the local scene runs wild and bohemian.
“It’s a bit more bohemian here, a bit more crazy – both socially and culturally. I think it’s what Amsterdam was like 20 years ago. It’s also a little more classical as well. They have ballet, they have a big opera and classical music scene. A lot of people are recording classical music stuff here because there’s a lot of musicians. The art scene is a little more bohemian and unexpected than Amsterdam. Amsterdam’s very… trendy. If you went to an art party in Amsterdam it would probably be some kind of street art and everyone’s dressed very cool with beanie caps and expensive trainers. If you go to an art show here it’s more random, strange-looking people and everyone’s dressed weirdly. It’s a bit more quirky.”
The city also benefits from its renowned local production industry and Prague regularly hosts Hollywood movies. With all this going for it, Fallon specifically and Prague more generally has a lot to offer international creative talent. That in turn looks set to put the agency in the driving seat for 2018 as it looks to build on its ŠKODA work, nurture new clients and grow its already-diverse crew.