The McCann Time Capsule: The 1970 Prehistory ‘Launches’ of McCann Health and MRM//McCann

The McCann Time Capsule: The 1970 Prehistory ‘Launches’ of McCann Health and MRM//McCann

The fourth quarter of 1970 seems to have been an important overlooked moment in the history of specialist agencies. For whatever reason, McCann New York just within those few months took its first steps in two key emerging discipline areas that would ultimately morph into the major McCann Health and MRM//McCann global capabilities of today. 

Prior to that, throughout the 1960s, McCann had launched specialized agencies in various areas--starting with the industry’s first creative boutique in 1960, both a business-to-business unit and one focused on advertising to women in 1962, a problem-solving think tank in 1966, and a fashion specialist in 1967.  But the 1970 entries seem to have been the beginning of a more enduring trajectory. 

Effective Nov. 15, 1970, the New York office of another Interpublic agency, Erwin Wasey, Inc. was merged with McCann and was operated as the New York agency’s new Medical Division. McCann’s chairman, Paul Foley, said, “For some time we have been planning to set up a medical group at McCann. We are pleased that we are adding a successful, going operation.”

The clients included Lederle Laboratories, Cyanamid International, Warner-Lambert’s Lactona Division, Squibb, and Chemway.  The EVP-General Manager of Wasey New York who joined McCann in a similar capacity overseeing the medical accounts was A. Louis Carrafiello, who would leave in 1973 to form Carrafiello Diehl & Associates, another healthcare marketing agency.

Then in December 1970, as direct marketing was increasing in importance as part of the total communications mix, McCann hired Joan Throckmorton Satin as a consultant. A future Direct Marketing Association Hall of Famer, Satin was the first woman to serve on the DMA’s Executive Committee, co-founded the Women’s Direct Response Group (which named her Direct Marketing Woman of the Year), and was selected by Business Week as one of the top 100 Corporate Women in America.

At McCann, she “began by defining direct marketing as the umbrella term for direct mail advertising, the mail order marketing method and direct response advertising in various media.” She said, “Consumers are responding to this technique because supermarket shopping is no longer convenient. Direct marketing provides the manufacturer with an effective way to meet private label competition. The agency gets a new source of income and new capability to attract new clients.”  

But while these 1970 initiatives appeared to mark McCann’s first formal entries into direct marketing and healthcare marketing, neither of these led directly to the ongoing evolutions that created the McCann Health and MRM//McCann of today. Those steps didn’t come until later in that decade for MRM//McCann and not for another 15 years for McCann Health.

It was in 1978 when McCann created its own Direct Response Division, working with clients such as George Pacific Corp. Rollins Protective Services, The New York Times and The San Jose Mercury News.In 1980, McCann acquired March Advertising, an 18-year-old  direct agency that it merged with the Direct Response Division to form a $20 million in billings unit first called McCann-Erickson March, then March Direct Marketing and ultimately McCann Direct. When McCann Worldgroup was formed in 1997, McCann Direct was transformed into MRM.

As for McCann Health, its continuous origins can be traced to the 1985 acquisition of Chicago-based Sieber & McIntyre, a healthcare specialist with some $75-$85 million in billings and offices in Morristown, New Jersey, and Japan (KK Standard McIntyre).With the 1987 acquisition of Bogart Delafield Ferrier, a healthcare marketing consultancy in East Hanover, New Jersey, the operation’s named was changed to McCann-Erickson Healthcare. Then as McCann Worldgroup was headed into its 1997 launch, it beefed up its healthcare capabilities substantially to form McCann Healthcare Worldwide with a series of 1996 acqusitions that still form the pillars of the global network today:  Asia Pacific’s CWFS, which included agencies in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore; the UK’s Complete Medical Communications Group; France’s CDRG Communications Group; and the Torre Lazur Renta Healthcare Group, based in Parsippany, with additional offices in La Jolla, California, and Freiburg, Germany. 

The evolution of these global discipline networks, in their naming as well as in their capabilities,  has also influenced McCann overall in its branding. 

In 1996, DMA Hall of Famer Stan Rapp was hired to lead the formation of McCann Worldgroup's new commitment to CRM, which would now include the new field of Interactive/Online Marketing as well as Direct.Stan Rapp renamed what was then McCann Direct as MRM, to stand for McCann Relationship Marketing, and then proposed a full name that would include the expanded scope of the capability:  MRM Worldgroup.

But instead it became MRM Worldwide because the overall McCann board was so taken with the nomenclature creativity Rapp had come up with that it incorporated it into the name of  the overall company: hence McCann Worldgroup.

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