The McCann Time Capsule: Our First All-Agency Party
Agency parties at McCann have become a regular event, including this week’s New York holiday party. This company tradition of bringing everyone together socially dates back to March 23, 1916, when all 80 men and women in the New York office joined in the first annual dinner of The H. K. McCann Company.
Calling it the “Royal Get-Together,” the invitation, printed humorously on a Specification Sheet, included “Instructions to Everybody” to “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry, for To-morrow You Go to Work.” The entrée was filet of beef, and the list of all of the courses included cigarettes and cigars at the end.
As the agency noted, “There was only one speech –a brief one by Mr. McCann in which he modestly related the history of the Company and endeavored to give the credit for its success to the organization—a graceful thing indeed, which everyone liked but didn’t quite believe.” The tongue-in-cheek description of the party also noted that after the meal “Followed the usual things one has at dinner –only better—food, repartee and companionship—even to the very fussy photographer who insisted on making everyone stop eating and laughing to stare at his camera.”
Everyone danced (“there are no wall flowers in the McCann Organization”) and there was a dance competition “won by Miss McManus of the Copy Department and her brother, Mr. John McManus.”
If the program is to be believed, the entertainment was also quite extensive with employees performing. The barber shop quartet of Messrs. Tompkins, Speicher, Milne and Rorty sang “Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” and Miss Madge Anderson sang selections from the opera “Il Trovatore.” There was a recitation by Mr. Gus Kress, a comedy routine by Eddy Carter and Tony Geoghegan, and a baritone solo by Mr. Harvey Gibson that included “The Land of the Sky Blue Water” and “My Little Gray Home in the West.”
“The first ‘Company Dinner’ was a big success,” the agency newsletter reported. “As a facetious member of the Copy Department remarked in describing it, ‘All other dinners pale into insignificance; the affair was a gigantic success and a good time was had by all.’ Discounting his extravagant phraseology, which may be attributed to his training on that great metropolitan daily, The Grand Rapid ‘News,’ he has told the story of the dinner and told it well.”