The McCann Time Capsule: McCann’s Women’s History and . . . Specialized Agencies

The McCann Time Capsule: McCann’s Women’s History and . . . Specialized Agencies

In the year 1960, McCann was in the forefront of progressive agency developments in at least two key areas—female talent and innovative organization.

Organizationally, it launched advertising’s first specialized agency unit with the May 1960 formation of Jack Tinker & Partners as a strategic/creative think tank.

And in terms of talent, that year McCann “seemed the most enlightened place for women” among all “the big agencies,” according to Stephen Fox in The Mirror Makers, his history of American advertising. McCann’s number of female VPs represented the “highest proportion in advertising,” Fox noted (although having six female VPs out of a total of 100 VPs would hardly stand out today).

Then throughout the 1960s, these two trends—in talent and in organization—intersected as the opening of more specialized units also became an opportunity to move more women into leadership positions.

In July 1961, the advertising research legend Dr. Herta Herzog was named Chairman of Marplan, the research division, in addition to her responsibilities as one of the Tinker unit partners. She had originally joined McCann in 1943 and served in various roles throughout her career here, including as Director of Research.

In November 1962, Solita Arbib became “the second female ‘chief’ of an Interpublic agency,” when she was named President of Johnstone, Inc., an advertising-to-women specialized agency that was acquired by IPG and was closely associated with McCann. Arbib had been a VP-Associate Creative Director at McCann NY and would soon bring over others.

Most notable among these was Jo Foxworth, who joined McCann in 1955 as a copywriter, became a VP-ACD at Johnstone, and then launched her eponymous agency in 1968. An AAF Advertising Hall of Famer, Foxworth’s 1979 book Boss Lady, described as “an introduction to the trials and tribulations women faced in business,” was also very popular among female college students.

The innovative specialized units continued to sprout up during the Sixties, sometimes with women in top spots, and sometimes not:

          ·1962: The business-to-business unit ITSM (which stands for Industrial, Technical and Scientific Marketing).

          ·1966: The Center for Advanced Practice, a problem-solving unit in which Francine Wexler would become one of the three Managing Directors, another being Phil Geier, the future Chairman-CEO of Interpublic.

           ·1967: FAST (Fashion and Style Techniques Group), where women held senior copy and art positions, but not the top ones.

Women at McCann also held top creative positions throughout the 1960s decade, including most notably Margot Sherman, who was Senior VP and Chairman of the Creative Plans Board; Dee Ito, who was McCann International Copy Chief; and Laurel Cutler, who was Senior VP- Managing Director of the Collaborative A group of accounts.

Cutler, another AAF Hall of Famer, also reflected another development among some women who had worked at McCann in that era; namely, those, like Foxworth, who went on to become principals at their own agencies. These included Mary Wells, who left Tinker in 1966 to form Wells, Rich, Greene; Lois Korey, the onetime TV comedy writer who founded Korey, Kay & Partners; and Cutler, who became Vice Chairman of Leber Katz Partners, and then EVP and Director of Foote, Cone & Belding when it acquired LKP. FCB, in turn, is now part of Interpublic.

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