The McCann Time Capsule: MRM//McCann’s Long Evolution

The McCann Time Capsule: MRM//McCann’s Long Evolution

MRM//McCann won its first-ever Cannes Grand Prix last week with groundbreaking work of a kind one might not have associated with our digital/CRM agency (or any of our agencies, as a matter of fact) as recently as even a few years ago. It won in the Lions Entertainment category for an online 16+ minute science fiction film, called “Beyond Money,” that MRM//McCann Spain created for its Santander Bank client.

The area of expertise that MRM//McCann occupies is one that has itself evolved significantly over time.

So here’s a quick primer:

It started out in the 1970s as “Direct Response.”

·      In a pre-entry in 1970, Direct Marketing Assn Hall of Famer Joan Throckmorton was brought on as a consultant, and there seems to have been another standing direct response unit mid-decade associated with the Encyclopaedia Britanica account.

·      In 1978, McCann New York set up a McCann Erickson Direct Response Division, as its entry into the growing field of direct marketing. It was formed in association with the independent Response Industries, Inc., whose president, David Savage, joined as general manager.  Accounts included Georgia-Pacific Corp. Rollins Protective Services, The New York Times, and the San Jose Mercury News—all clients shared with the McCann ad agency.

Then it became “Direct Marketing” in the 1980s.

·      In 1980, McCann acquired March Advertising, a 20-year old direct marketing shop, and merged it with its internal operation to form McCann-Erickson March, Inc., whose clients include American Express, Brown-Forman Distillers, The New York Times, and Colonial Penn Insurance Co.  At some point in the early 1980s, the name of the division would change to March Direct Marketing and then later to McCann Direct.

Then, in the 1990s, it became “Relationship Marketing.”

·      In 1996, as part of the lead-up to the 1997 formation and launch of McCann Worldgroup, Stan Rapp, a co-founder of Rapp & Collins and Direct Marketing Association Hall of Famer, joined to head up and expand McCann Direct into all areas of relationship marketing and database-driven communications.  He then rebranded the unit as MRM Worldwide (MRM = McCann Relationship Marketing), which was already global with billings of $285 million and operations in 37 countries.

Then it became “Digital and Customer Relationship Marketing” in the 21st Century.

·      In 2001, the global network was rebranded as MRM Partners Worldwide following the merger of MRM Worldwide with Zentropy Partners, a digital communications agency also owned by Interpublic, to become one of the industry’s leading global digital and CRM networks.

·      In 2004, it became MRM Worldwide again, and then MRM//McCann in 2014.

But our history in this area of marketing expertise actually goes back over 100 years. Long before we even had a separate unit, The H. K. McCann Company in 1915 was promoting its direct capabilities (and what it called direct mail in other documents), pointing out that “In preparing direct advertising, a clear knowledge of the needs and habits of the class aimed at is required. Here again our policy of Investigation and Research is essentially helpful.”


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