The McCann Time Capsule: 5 McCann Cities, 5 Diverse Histories
The five McCann agency cities featured in this year’s Cultural Spotlight Week, our initiative highlighting the diversity of our global culture, also represent a diverse picture of McCann’s global history. The business stories behind Detroit, Buenos Aires, Madrid, Seoul and Riyadh tell of how our network developed as a mix of start-ups and acquisitions, some going back to our earliest days, and as a group representing evolving approaches to how we serve clients around the world.
Detroit: Detroit actually has two histories. The H. K. McCann Co. opened its doors in New York in 1912. One year later it began its U.S. expansion by opening in San Francisco and in Detroit, which was chosen as the strategic Midwestern location because it was between key new business prospects in Ohio (especially the Cleveland Foundry, maker of Perfection Stoves) and Bay City, Michigan. Gleeson Murphy, a former assistant to the president of General Motors, opened the office and wrote copy, including for the Lincoln Highway Association. The Lincoln Highway would become the first transcontinental highway, stretching 3,400 miles between New York and San Francisco. In 1915, McCann finally won The Cleveland Foundry Company as a major client, and the Midwestern hub was moved from Detroit, which closed, to Cleveland. But two decades later, when McCann won 27 of Ford Motors’ 32 branch territories, it started setting up an extensive network of agencies around the U.S. As McCann’s role expanded to include separate Ford V-8, Lincoln Zephyr and Mercury accounts, the agency increased its involvement and opened up the new Detroit agency in 1934, which has been in continuous operation since, working first with Ford, then Chrysler, and then with GM starting in 1958.
Buenos Aires: In 1935, McCann expanded into Latin America by opening in Argentina and Brazil. The start-up Buenos Aires agency was launched on July 1, 1935. It quickly began adding new business, beginning with the West India Oil Company, Standard Oil’s major Latin American subsidiary and the client reason McCann had expanded into the region. By early 1936, billings rose to $200,000 and the office was employing 13 people. Two clients added in Buenos Aires in 1935, Crema Hinds cream and Kolynos toothpaste, would become major multinational McCann clients during the next decade and beyond. The creative work for Kolynos (“White teeth, more precious than pearls”) and for Crema Hinds (comparing it to honey and almonds) would become well known. There would soon be more international clients (Eveready, Schering) and a major local client, la Continental Cia de Seguros Generales, one of the most important insurance companies in Argentina whose account encompassed direct mail and sales promotion in addition to newspaper advertising.
Madrid: McCann’s European expansion began in 1927 in France and the U.K., and then in 1928 in Germany. Additional offices were opened in the 1950s in Belgium, Italy and Switzerland. But in the early 1960s, McCann made a major acquisition that brought it to Spain: Ruescas Publicidad, a Madrid and Barcelona agency that had been started in 1949. Its major clients included Colgate-Palmolive, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Olivetti, and International Chemical Industries. Within the next few years it would add such accounts as Gillette, Georgia Pacific Corp. and Hertz Rent-a-Car. As an indication of how dramatically TV reworked the European ad landscape, only 20% of McCann Spain’s business was in TV in 1966; this jumped up to 50% only two years later in 1968.
Seoul: McCann’s Asia Pacific expansion began in Australia in 1959 and Japan in 1960, and then grew throughout the region over the next few decades. Throughout the 1980s and mid-1990s McCann had continued to expand internationally, whether by adding new countries or by upgrading equity positions to majority or wholly owned positions. Associations were replaced with wholly owned start-up agencies, including in Seoul, where McCann opened in 1990 as one of the first international agencies to fully operate in Korea.
Riyadh: While McCann had Middle East affiliates since the 1970s, our office in Saudi Arabia dates back only more recently to the affiliation several decades ago with MCN and FP7. Today, through the FP7 brand, McCann is the largest marketing communications network throughout the Middle East and North Africa, with offices in Abu Dhabi, Algeria, Amman, Beirut, Bahrain, Cairo, Casablanca, Doha, Dubai, Jeddah, Kuwait City, Muscat, Riyadh, Tunisia and Erbil.