The McCann Time Capsule: A Publishing JV with Simon & Schuster

The McCann Time Capsule: A Publishing JV with Simon & Schuster

When it comes to publishing, ad agencies usually reserve their printed viewpoints and perspectives for internal publications shared with clients or sometimes the press. But in 1965, Interpublic took a unique approach by forming a joint program with Simon & Schuster for the publication of books on advertising, marketing and many other phases of the business, written and edited by McCann executives.

As Interpublic Founder and Chairman Marion Harper, Jr., (shown left in photo, signing the agreement with Simon & Schuster Chairman Leon Shimkin) explained in October of that year: “Earlier this year, Interpublic established a Publications Division to publish books, newsletters, statistical studies and other continuous information services. Because we are devoting our efforts to communications of all types it was logical that we should turn to publishing.”

The first two books, written by McCann Executive VP Frank A. Armstrong, were on improving sales communications techniques and a review of successful practices and principles in marketing.

In one 24-volume set of short books (each about 50 pages long) in the “Principles and Practices of Marketing Communications” series, the subjects ranged from “The Creative Approach,” “Ways to More Effective TV and Radio Advertising,” and “Art in Advertising,” to “The Life Cycle of a Product,” “The Technical Side of Advertising,” and “The Economics of Advertising Growth,” among others. 

Published by what was called The Interpublic Press/ Simon and Schuster, these publications were edited by Alton Ketchum, whose long creative career with McCann (1934-1962) included serving as VP, Creative Supervisor of the International Division before moving to IPG’s PR unit, Infoplan, and his editing role. During the course of his career at McCann, Ketchum also was the author separately of ''Uncle Sam: The Man and the Legend', a 1959 book in which he detailed the origins of the Uncle Sam character who came to represent America. He also wrote booklets for the United States Information Agency.

Harper explained further that “Royalties will be comparable to those paid by any outside publisher and in many cases will be better. Interpublic will also be prepared to put promotional support behind some books in addition to that given by Schuster.”

While the books initially focused on marketing and advertising, the enterprise was also open to other content as well. “At the moment, we’re not particularly interesting in fiction, but we do want to receive ideas and outlines as well as finished manuscripts,” the company said. “All of us frequently hear people say, ‘I could write a book about it.’ In the future we hope that they will at least write us a letter.”

No word on whether the venture ever got beyond marketing communications topics.

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