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Was McCann breakaway Grandfield Rork Collins London’s version of Mad Men?

It’s the last knockings of Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men and here’s a resume of how it got from series one to series seven.

Many people have debated how close this all was or wasn’t to the Madison Avenue of the 1960s.

What interests me is that, in the latest and final (presumably) series Sterling Cooper is bought by McCann.

Back in the day interpublic, which consisted of McCann-Ericson, Wasey Campbell-Ewald, a few other agencies and the odd PR company, was adland’s only quoted holding company (JWT and Ogilvy floated as agency operations). Built by a character valled Marion Harper, about whom nobody seems to have a good word to say, before or since.

I got to know McCann in London a bit when it occupied a building on Howland Street, up the road from Collett Dickenson Pearce and around the corner from Saatchi & Saatchi. It was London adland in a tea cup.

And a mighty engine it was. It had been built up by American adman Phil Geier, who went on to run IPG, with the help of, among others, Briit Ronnie Kirkwood, a gay former TV producer/director who brought considerable TV abilities to the very American mix.

article-2170026-13F506E8000005DC-657_306x543They were followd by the trio of MD Nigel Grandfield, a hard-drinking account man and a bit of a debs’ delight (at one time he was married to Michael Howard’s wife Sandra, then a top model, left), creative director Barry Day (a smooth media operator, he used to write Campaign’s ‘Newcomer’ ad reviews – anonymously) and Ann Burdus, a classy brainbox.

At the time they handled Coke, Esso/Exxon, Tesco, Martini and many others. They were set to take over the London ad world but, somehow, didn’t. Maybe because they were part of a holding company.

Grandield and two of his cohorts, account man Graeme Collins and creative Andy Rork, went off to form Grandfield Rork Collins, which did well for a bit (it won Tesco) but ultimately succumbed to a tidal wave of booze and a takeover offer from Saatchi.

But maybe GRC was London’s version of Mad Men.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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