In the 1970s and ’80s, Westport was known as “the marketing capital of the world.” An inordinate number of marketing companies was headquartered here.
Perhaps the best known was Marketing Corporation of America. Founded by Jim McManus in 1971, it was a behemoth. It also served as an incubator for other creative marketers, who went on to create their own companies, right here in town.
McManus died last week at his home in Fairfield. He was 84.
Like many Westport marketers, McManus began his career with Procter & Gamble. He went on to build the first integrated marketing services firm to serve Fortune 50 consumer companies. Between 1971 and 1997 — when it was sold to the Interpublic Group — MCA grew into a $500 million enterprise. Clients included Frito-Lay, IBM, Quaker Oats, Lipton, Procter & Gamble, Lorillard, FedEx, Saab and Dunkin’ Donuts.
McManus’ firm provided strategic consulting, market research, advertising, sales promotion programs and venture capital. It was the model for many marketing companies that followed — in Westport, and around the world.
In 1985, MCA gave the town a gift for our 150th anniversary: a 30-minute video. “Westport’s Got it All” includes cameos by famous local residents: Harry Reasoner. Joanne Woodward. Rodney Dangerfield.
And “ABC’s Wide World of Sports” host Jim McKay — whose real name was also James McManus.
(Services for MCA’s McManus were private. Donations in his name can be made by clicking here. Specify “McManus Center, Kellogg Student Programs.”)