Gregor Cuzak

on marketing, business and philosophy

Truth well told


McCann Erickson Credo

McCann Erickson Credo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Truth well told.

This has been one of the most famous taglines in the history of advertising. Not known to public mostly, but truly epic among the craftsmen of Madison Avenue. Truth well told has been the tagline of McCann Erickson advertising agency.

McCann has been and still is a truly magnificent agency. McCann has also been my first employer, wherein I started my career in 1996. I’ve remained there for 9 years, until leaving them at the end of 2005.

I do not want to recount the history of the entity, I’d just pick into a few things I remember from and about the place.

McCann’s history has been mostly paved by Exxon. It was the first client who pushed its agency to go global, in practice it meant that McCann followed Exxon, to open the first international offices in London and Berlin, I believe in 1911. The list of clients extended to a formidable capitalist esquadron when McCann got the best of Coca-Cola, General Motors, Nestle, L’Oreal, Mastercard and others.

McCann also formed the first of agency holdings, The Interpublic Group of Compaies, that bought up agency networks of Lowe, Lintas and others. IPG has been eclipsed by WPP, Publicis Group and Omnicom in the better part of the last two decades. Yet I believe, don’t know why, that the IPG will be coming back. As well as McCann.

McCann’s lucky number is 13. Series of reasons here, mostly related with the venerable H.K. McCann who started the agency a century ago.

McCann is the black sheep of Madison Avenue. Probably the most hated agency in the history, which is also immortalised in the Mad Men TV Series. People of creative self-respect would not go there, because McCann is but a money machine.

Two moments reach the peak of my McCann moments. One is the entry into the old Tegelhof airport at the 2000 i:m-e conference, a surrealist experience where I first experienced Sir Ken Robinson’s presentation on education, that later became the all star TED presentation. At that same conference I was hit on by a gay member of the board of company, but survived untouched, and was commended by the most beautiful girl at the conference, Claire Dixon on my future role in the company.

The second moment happened during the same year, 2000, at the Cannes ad festival. It was not the festival itself, but McCann’s party at Ives Saint Laurent’s Bubble house, the extravagant villa with no straight walls. Both events were organised by the same man, forgot his name, sorry. But in retrospect, I am not surprised. He was the planner behind the global Levi’s campaign at the time. And left McCann soon afterwards. Like so many other people. Let me mention Marina Niks here, the person mostly involved in the locally famous repositioning of the Slovenian mobile operator Si.mobil.

I’d be biased if I only gave you glorious moments. I’ve had bad ones, a lot. The worst of all was my two year stint as the managing director of McCann in Slovenia from 1998 til 2000. Let me just say: too young, too much, too bad. Awful, terrifying, never to be repeated, yet, priceless.

Last but not least. The greatness of the tagline came across me only when Boštjan
Tadel, a respected Slovenian copywriter mentioned it as his favourite among all taglines in the Slovenian ad magazine, Marketing Magazin.

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