The McCann Time Capsule: Global Account Consolidations
Global account consolidations are now a regular occurrence in the agency business, as evidenced by McCann’s recent worldwide wins of RB’s Nurofen and Qualcomm, Momentum’s of SAP, McCann Health’s of GSK, and MRM//McCann’s of Cisco. But it’s a trend among multinationals to align their worldwide accounts that first started to take off in the 1940s, at least as far as McCann is concerned.
McCann is unusual among agencies in that our history has always been tied up with internationally aligned assignments. It was The H.K. McCann Co.’s relationship with its founding client, Standard Oil of N.J. (ExxonMobil/ Esso), that put us on the leading edge in coordinated international accounts. Both our openings in Europe in 1927 and in Latin America in 1935 were built on the pan-regional account opportunities that opened up with Standard Oil.
During the 1940s, the large multinationals in general began to take a different, more systematic approach to their international agency assignments by replacing the pattern of country-by-country expansions with account consolidations.
· Schenley International Corp., the liquor company, assigned all of its non-U.S. advertising to McCann in 1943.
· Eversharp (Eversharp pens and Schick Injector razors and blades) did the same in 1947.
· International Harvester, a McCann Chicago client, followed suit in 1948.
· McCann Latin America won the region-wide assignments for Pan American-Grace Airlines and Jantzen swimsuits in 1946, and then for Corn Products Refining Co. (Argo, Mazola) and Smith Kline & French (Benzedrine) in 1947.
The language in the 1948 International Harvester press release is striking for how current it sounds: “With the globe steadily growing smaller from a communications and advertising standpoint, with all markets watching the U.S. for new ideas and merchandise, it is felt that closely integrated and coordinated advertising programming is necessary.”
By 1949, McCann was handling as many as 15 clients in three or more countries. The client list showed that the agency’s global business had stretched far beyond Standard Oil/Esso. There were five clients that McCann was handling in at least nine countries, including Standard Oil/Esso, International Harvester, Lehn & Fink, Coca-Cola, and American Home Products/ Home Products International. And there were six clients handled by McCann agencies on at least three continents (N.A., Europe, LatAm), including Standard Oil/Esso, General Motors, International Harvester, Revlon, Schenley and Tampax.
As Ad Age has noted, “McCann-Erickson immediately proved itself a pioneer in the ad business, beating other networks to the globalization trend of the 1980s by several decades. The shop engaged in multi-country account coordination and created sophisticated global media platforms as early as the 1940s.”