The McCann Time Capsule: Truth About Street, Sort of. . . A 1916 Prototype
The global Truth About Street initiative, which will send all McCann Worldgroup employees out for one-on-one consumer interviews on Oct. 10, has its immediate methodological origins in the similarly named waves of McCann Latin American & Caribbean studies that began five years ago. But marshaling our own employees to go into the field to meet client customers face-to-face to gather in-depth insights has a long history at McCann, starting with our first such major study a century ago.
Cleveland Metal Products, which manufactured oil heaters and stoves sold under the Perfection and New Perfection brand names, was an early Cleveland office client of The H. K. McCann Co., already identified as the “Truth Well Told” agency. In 1916, McCann’s central New York-based Research Department was called upon “to determine for our client the advisability of entering the kitchen utensil field with a new line of enamel ware, and if answered in the affirmative, how to go about it,” according to a company newsletter at the time. “It was prompted by the marked inadequacy in the available supply of enamel ware for the domestic market. The unfilled demand appeared so strong on the part of the trade that it looked as if a good opportunity was presented.”
Interviews were conducted among all kitchen-utensil retailers and some jobbers in five towns of different sizes (e.g., populations under 3,000, or 3,000-10,000, or 5,000-50,000, or 50,000+) in each of six states—California, Georgia, Iowa, Massachusetts, Ohio and Texas. There were 60 to 70 interviews in each state, and “the Southern trip alone covering George and Texas took 25 days to complete.”
Like the Truth About Street, McCann relied on its own employees to hit the ground and uncover the truth. Said the newsletter: “It is of interest to note that outside of California, all work was handled by the Research Department and its staff. This is the first large investigation which we have conducted in which we were not obliged to call on outside help from the Cleveland Office or elsewhere.”
The agency did not share the results, saying “At this time, no data is available on the conclusions to be drawn from the summation of the investigation.” But Cleveland Metal Products, which had supported its Aladdin brand of aluminum cooking utensils with a major national campaign that was launched in March 1916, is known to have expanded the Aladdin line into enameled steel cooking utensils as well.