KMP founder Michael Manton dies at 86

I learned today that Michael Manton, one of the founders of famous 1960s agency KMP, has died aged 86.

Michael was an interesting character: intellectual and unyielding but able to embrace new things, as he did when he chaired the Association of Media Independents which challenged the UK’s IPA trade body when the serfs in the media department broke away to become rich in their own right running media independents.

(David) Kingsley, Manton and (Brian) Palmer was the quintessential !960s Brit agency, challenging the big American outfits and, briefly, famous – most notably for the work it did for Harold Wilson’s Labour Party and government in the days when such political advertising was regarded (by the establishment) as beyond the pale.

Kingsley was the politico and front man (as I recall), Palmer the creative and Manton the account man.

KMP then became Kimpher when Len Heath joined to company. Heath was an entrepreneurial type who later became involved with the highly-successful Covent Garden events company Imagination.

But Kimpher, which floated on the stock market (a first for a British agency) and bought loads of other companies, never flew. Eventually it subsided, sometime in the 1970s.

KMP, in reduced form, meanwhile soldiered on and managed to sell itself twice – once to Garland-Compton and then to Saatchi & Saatchi, which had bought Garland-Compton. Manton, though, was no longer involved.

But Kimpher did spawn one of London’s first media independents, The Media Department, which then became the highly-successful TMD under David Reich. This was eventually bought by French media agency Carat which was, in turn, bought by WCRS (in its first public company heyday – it’s now part of Engine Group) and, eventually, became one of the foundation stones of Aegis.

So Manton, in his own way, helped to propel media agencies towards their current eminence.

And, despite his rather forbidding reputation, he could be a nice guy too – if he didn’t think you were an idiot.

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