Lisa Faller talks about her ‘Mad Men’ life

Lisa Faller is president of FKQ Advertising and Marketing, in Clearwater. Faller’s dad, Bob Faller, started the company in 1961 in Buffalo, New York. When it came time to open a Tampa Bay location, Lisa started at the agency full time.

Most of FKQ’s clients are on retainer, with capitalized billings between $75 million and $100 million.

In May, FKQ received the Award for Excellence from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tampa Bay.

FKQ has been a longtime advocate and supporter of the charity. Their partnership has generated millions of dollars of media exposure for the nonprofit.

FKQ also supports the Special Olympics, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Habitat for Humanity. The agency has also worked with the Tampa General Hospital Foundation for about 20 years.

Bridgette Bello, CEO and publisher of Tampa Bay Business & Wealth, interviewed Faller in front of an invitation-only audience at Forbici in Tampa. Here’s a recap of that discussion.

You can view photos from the event here. 


What has been the most fun about being a cover story for TBBW?

I would say people have come out of the woodworks. Clients, business partners, friends, everybody under the sun is reading your magazine. I’m now you’re number one cheerleader.

McDonalds is a big account for you guys and always has been, what is your secret sauce at FKQ?

I could talk for a long time, but probably some of the main things would be strength beyond size and total character. I think we have unsurpassed integrity, which we’re very proud of. It’s the legacy of my father and has carried on. And vision. Vision to continually explore unchartered territory, because that’s what we do.

And more importantly, a vision to know what not to do. As a 58-year-old company, those go hand in hand. We serve those qualities up, as Bob Faller would say, with an old fashion ration of passion. If you did read the article, Bob’s mantra for the company is to do so with a “whatever it takes” philosophy. If you live in the FKQ space you see that and it’s beyond anything I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

She literally said in the interview, “I want to come back as an FKQ client.” I might steal that it’s kind of cool. How many people have seen the show Mad Men? Lisa could probably fact check Mad Men. Can you tell us if that really is how the industry was?

I think Bob Faller, the founder of our company, was the original “Mad Men.” I grew up in that space and I lived at the agency. We had clients at the house all of the time. It was an amazing era. It was creative. There were huge big ideas happening at that time and nonstop brainstorming, super graphics all over every wall of the agency.

It was extremely exciting. There was a lot of smoking and drinking. There were three martini lunches. I mean, it was exactly what you saw if you watched that show. Yes, I lived it and it was terrific.

You were 8 years old around that time?


You are a large agency, much larger than anyone might expect from a Clearwater agency. What’s your best piece of business advice that you can share with the people in this room?

That’s a great question. I would say, just growing  up in the business and seeing how it all happened…dream big, go like mad, never look back and never ever regret any decision you’ve made, and they’re not all perfect. We make a lot of mistakes but learn from those mistakes. If you don’t go for it, you’re never trying.

I grew up in a situation where I was fortunate and very blessed to have a family structure where it was, “Do whatever you can do.” You can make anything you want happen if you set your sights on it. Don’t look back. Go like mad.

I love that. You touched on that you were blessed and fortunate. Lisa grew up in private jets, basically in Vegas.

(Laughs) We started going to Vegas when it wasn’t necessarily a family destination. But it wasn’t always like that. In my family we grew up working really hard and we continue to work really hard. Nothing was handed to us.

But I do feel incredibly fortunate and incredibly blessed. I would say, just don’t ever take anything for granted. It’s not handed to you on a silver platter, as many of us know.

You’re a rocker at heart. How many times have you seen the Rolling Stones?

A lot. As you may know, Mick Jagger just turned 76. That’s probably my number one band. And I’m seeing them August 31 in Miami, so more than 15 times.

We did get a little serious when we were talking, and we did talk about the “C” word, a subject near and dear to our hearts. Very few of us haven’t had some sort of experience with it. But I loved your philosophy.

You know, life is short and every day is a gift. You need to live it as such. I just got an update that one of FKQ’s associates is now cancer-free.

We are all touched at some point. You need to make the most out every day and be positive. Positivity is infectious. No matter what we’re up against, and God knows we’re all up against something, take the positive road no matter what. ♦


TBBW’s “CEO Connect” series is an exclusive, invitation-only, monthly event that brings together the Tampa Bay area’s top business leaders to meet and mingle. Sponsors for July’s event included Foley & Lardner and ServisFirst Bank as presenting, Thomas Financial as a gold-level sponsor and Forbici as host sponsor.  DCE is our production partner.

Typically, the evening begins with a cocktail reception for about 120 guests, followed by an interview of that month’s cover CEO, providing insight into their lives, careers and views on issues affecting the business community. The  interview is conducted by Bridgette Bello, TBBW’s CEO and publisher.

Partnering with TBBW on the event provides an opportunity to network with the area’s business elite, generate new business  opportunities and increase brand awareness.

For information about event sponsorship opportunities, email Jason Baker at [email protected].

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