Tag Archives: Marketing Corporation of America

Friday Flashback #180

I’ve written about this before.

But every so often, a reader discovers a 35-year-old video about Westport. And sends it to me, as if I’ve never seen it.

If you lived here in 1985 — as I did — you know it well.

That year, the Marketing Corporation of America gave the town a 150th- anniversary: a 30-minute film.

MCA is no longer around. Westport is no longer the “marketing capital of America.”

But after 3 1/2 decades, “Westport’s Got It All” is the gift that keeps on giving.

The video is filled with celebrities who lived here. Strangely — or, perhaps, understatedly and on purpose — none are named. Jim McKay reads a newspaper by the river. Harry Reasoner sits near a tennis court. Joanne Woodward has a cameo.

ABC's "Wide World of Sports" anchor Jim McKay sits on the banks of the Saugatuck River, in the town he called home.

ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” anchor Jim McKay sits on the banks of the Saugatuck River, in the town he called home.

Okay, so Rodney Dangerfield cracks, “The town of Westport has my respect.” But that’s the closest anyone comes to identifying him or herself.

The video opens with a cheesy, “Westport’s Got It All” song (including the line “Kids hanging out at the Dairy Queen…”). It’s sung by former Westporter Dara Sedaka — Neil’s daughter.

But the pace quickens. There are shots of Main Street, the Playhouse, Staples, Compo, the downtown art show, Longshore, Cockenoe, the Levitt and the Memorial Day parade (ending at Jesup Green).

Most look pretty much the same today. But there are plenty of other places and things that are long gone: Remarkable Book Shop. The White Barn Theater. Mohonk House. Hay Day (in its original location, opposite Carvel). MCA.

And, of course, restaurants: Manero’s, Chez Pierre, Ships, Peppermill, Three Bears, Allen’s Clam House, Connolly’s … and on and on.

I found the voiceovers fascinating. Mason Adams, Alan Parsell, Herb Baldwin, Claire Gold, Julie Belaga, Dick Leonard, Cary Pierce — I recognized the voices of so many former politicians, educators, students and others.

Crusty Yankee Alan Parsell was 83 years old when he was interviewed for the 150th-anniversary video.

Crusty Yankee Alan Parsell was 83 years old when he was interviewed for the 150th-anniversary video.

Here are some of the things they said:

  • “Nothing goes on here that people aren’t concerned about. For every issue, there are at least 10 sides.”
  • “I’m worried the town is losing its mix of a variety of people.”
  • “Westporters have extraordinary aspirations for their children. And they’re willing to pay for it.”
  • “I work 2 jobs, 90 hours a week, to keep my head above water here.”
  • “Westport has the sophistication of New York, the exuberance of a California town, the quaintness of New England — and a sense of humor.”
  • “We do have latchkey children, as more and more parents go off to work.”
George Weigle conducts the Staples Orphenians. They sound great in the video.

George Weigle conducts the Staples Orphenians. They sound great in the video.

  • “It’s a very loving community, in many ways.”
  • “We draw people into town, to go to the theater and movies.”
  • “The Post Road is a disaster. But every town has its Post Road. This one looks better than many.”
  • “Commercialization has really changed this town. It’s been good and bad.”
  • “It’s a generous, gregarious, outgoing town. You can dress any way you like. You can be anyone you want to be. That’s the uniqueness of the community.”

That was Westport, 1985. Thanks to MCA, we’ve got a video record — promotional, but still pretty honest — of who we were.

What’s happened in the past 35 years? Are we better, worse, just different — or the same — as we were back in the days when big cars roamed Main Street, the Church Lane YMCA was still new, and people came from out of town for the movies?

Click on the video below (then wait 10 seconds to begin). Then click “Comments.”

Remembering Jim McManus

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.

Jim McManus

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.”)

“Westport’s Got It All”

Back in 1985, the Marketing Corporation of America gave Westport a gift for the town’s 150th anniversary: a 30-minute video.

MCA is no longer around. Westport is no longer the “marketing capital of America.”

But the video — grandiosely titled “Westport’s Got It All” — has just been posted on Vimeo. It’s gone viral — at least, among Westporters and those who used to live here.

After nearly 30 years, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

The video is filled with celebrities who lived here. Strangely — or, perhaps, understatedly and on purpose — none are named. Jim McKay reads a newspaper by the river. Harry Reasoner sits near a tennis court. Joanne Woodward has a cameo.

ABC's "Wide World of Sports" anchor Jim McKay sits on the banks of the Saugatuck River, in the town he called home.

ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” anchor Jim McKay on the banks of the Saugatuck River, in the town he called home.

Okay, so Rodney Dangerfield cracks, “The town of Westport has my respect.” But that’s the closest anyone comes to identifying him or herself.

The video opens with a cheesy, “Westport’s Got It All” song (including the line “Kids hanging out at the Dairy Queen…”). It’s sung by Westporter Dara Sedaka — Neil’s daughter.

But the pace quickens. There are shots of Main Street, the Playhouse, Staples, Compo, the downtown art show, Longshore, Cockenoe, the Levitt and the Memorial Day parade (ending at Jesup Green).

Most look pretty much the same today. But there are plenty of other places and things that are long gone: Remarkable Book Shop. The White Barn Theater. Mohonk House. Hay Day (in its original location, opposite Carvel). MCA.

And, of course, restaurants: Manero’s, Chez Pierre, Ships, Peppermill, Three Bears, Allen’s Clam House, Connolly’s … and on and on.

I found the voiceovers fascinating. Mason Adams, Alan Parsell, Herb Baldwin, Claire Gold, Julie Belaga, Dick Leonard, Cary Pierce — I recognized the voices of so many former politicians, educators, students and others.

Crusty Yankee Alan Parsell was 83 years old when he was interviewed for the 150th-anniversary video.

Crusty Yankee Alan Parsell was 83 years old when he was interviewed for the 150th-anniversary video.

Here are some of the things they said:

  • “Nothing goes on here that people aren’t concerned about. For every issue, there are at least 10 sides.”
  • “I’m worried the town is losing its mix of a variety of people.”
  • “Westporters have extraordinary aspirations for their children. And they’re willing to pay for it.”
  • “I work 2 jobs, 90 hours a week, to keep my head above water here.”
  • “Westport has the sophistication of New York, the exuberance of a California town, the quaintness of New England — and a sense of humor.”
  • “We do have latchkey children, as more and more parents go off to work.”
George Weigle conducts the Staples Orphenians. They sound great in the video.

George Weigle conducts the Staples Orphenians. They sound great in the video.

  • “It’s a very loving community, in many ways.”
  • “We draw people into town, to go to the theater and movies.”
  • “The Post Road is a disaster. But every town has its Post Road. This one looks better than many.”
  • “Commercialization has really changed this town. It’s been good and bad.”
  • “It’s a generous, gregarious, outgoing town.You can dress any way you like. You can be anyone you want to be. That’s the uniqueness of the community.”

That was Westport, 1985. Thanks to MCA, we’ve got a video record — promotional, but still pretty honest — of who we were.

What’s happened in the past 28 years? Are we better, worse, just different — or the same — as we were back in the days when big cars roamed Main Street, the Church Lane YMCA was still new, and people came from out of town for the movies?

Click on the video below (then wait 10 seconds to begin). Then click “Comments.”

(Click here if your browser does not take you directly to Vimeo.)

Water Under The Bridge?

Save the Children‘s possible move out of its Wilton Road headquarters has generated plenty of headlines.

And you’d have to be living, brain dead, under a very large rock to not know that the Westport Y‘s move 2 miles up that same Wilton Road has caused considerable agita in town.

Why, then, has the proposed relocation of Westport’s largest employer — and biggest taxpayer — been met with a thunderous round of “meh”?

Bridgewater logoBridgewater Associates employs 1,200 people. It pays $500,000 a year in taxes. In 5 years, though, they hope to take all those workers — and tax dollars — down I-95 to Stamford.

(Then again, maybe not. On Monday the CT Mirror posted a long story describing opposition to the 750,000-square foot headquarters — “smack in the middle of a high-risk flood zone.”

(Plus, some folks are atwitter that Bridgewater will receive $115 million in state assistance to ease the move. The firm has $130 billion under management. And CEO Ray Dallio — worth $10 billion himself — is one of the world’s richest men, according to Forbes magazine.)

Oh, did I mention that Bridgewater Associations is not just “a” hedge fund. It is, according to CNN Money, the largest hedge fund.

On the planet.

Whoa! So not only is Bridgewater Westport’s largest employer and taxpayer — it’s also the mother of all hedge funds.

This guy does not work at Bridgewater Associates. At least, I don't think he does.

This guy does not work at Bridgewater Associates. At least, I don’t think he does.

Yet when was the last time you heard anyone say anything about them leaving?

Or, in fact, the last time someone said something about the fact that they’re even here?

I understand hedge funds are somewhat secretive. But think of the big corporations we’ve had in Westport.

Everyone knows Save the Children. Its predecessor, Famous Artists Schools, was also world-famous. (Okay, they had to get their name out there. Their customers were people paying a few dollars to learn to draw and write, not fabulously wealthy customers hoping to become even fabulously wealthier.)

But when Marketing Corporation of America — the world’s largest marketing firm, at the time — was headquartered on Riverside Avenue, everyone in town sure knew they were here.

Tauck logo 2 We knew Tauck Tours was here too. They’re the company that invented the group travel industry, then modernized it with high-end, worldwide itineraries.

Same with Stauffer Chemical, which made (hey, someone had to) herbicides for corn and rice.

And before that, Embalmers’ Supply Company — yes, the largest in the world — called Westport home.

All of those businesses — big, robust, important — were integral parts of Westport. As corporations, they were good neighbors. As human beings, the men and women who worked there were our neighbors.

But Bridgewater has been virtually invisible. Scattered in 5 locations — the 2 biggest sites are the old Glendinning building on Weston Road (very convenient to scooting on and off the Merritt Parkway) and Nyala Farm (ditto for 95) — it was easy for the hard-working, high-rolling hedge fund men and women to have little to do with Westport life.

Bridgewater Associates' Weston Road headquarters.

Bridgewater Associates’ Weston Road headquarters.

When Bridgewater leaves Westport, 5 or so years from now, we’ll miss their tax dollars.

But I don’t know that we’ll miss them. Because, really, were they ever really here?