Rapp & Collins was formed in 1965 in New York as an autonomous direct-marketing unit of Foote, Cone & Belding with Stanley Rapp, previously VP-creative director at David Altman Advertising, as president and Thomas Collins as exec VP-creative director, moving from VP at direct-marketing shop Wunderman, Ricotta & Kline.
By the end of its first six months, Rapp & Collins was profitable, with clients including "Encyclopaedia Britannica's" Britannica Home Library Service, Doubleday & Co., Famous Artists Schools and Film Corp. of America.
Within a few years, however, it became apparent that the agency was being impeded by potential account conflicts with its parent. As a result, Rapp & Collins split from FCB to become an independent shop in April 1969, taking three accounts with it, including Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Life as an independent
In its first six months as an independent agency, Rapp & Collins won 11 new assignments from six new clients and suffered only one account loss. It doubled its billings from $3.5 million to $7 million, making it the No. 3 direct-marketing agency in the U.S. (trailing Wunderman, Ricotta & Kline and Vos & Reicherg).
On Oct. 1, 1971, Rapp & Collins merged with Chicago-based Stone & Adler, forming a new agency with combined billings of $10 million and a client list that included large publishing accounts such as Time-Life books and Ziff-Davis Publishing.
Despite its success as Rapp, Collins, Stone & Adler, however, the New York and Chicago entities parted ways in 1976, when Rapp & Collins became the direct-marketing subsidiary of Doyle Dane Bernbach. (Stone & Adler remained independent.)
As part of DDB, Rapp & Collins was able to mount a global presence by opening shops in London, Paris, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Sydney, Tokyo and Mexico City, establishing an international foundation that it would build on in following decades. Its first move into Europe came in 1983, when DDB acquired London-based McCorkell, Sidaway & Wright and created MSW Rapp & Collins.
Three years later, Rapp & Collins became part of the world’s second-largest group of direct-marketing agencies when when DDB joined Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn and Needham Harper Worldwide in the mega-merger that formed Omnicom Group. Omnicom merged Rapp & Collins with another of its shops, Dallas-based Direct Response Group, to create the $100 million Rapp Collins USA within Omnicom's Diversified Agency Services group.
In 1988, after 23 years with the agency he founded, Mr. Rapp resigned to devote his time to writing and public speaking. A year later, Rapp Collins USA merged with Marcoa DR Group.
The 1990s were a time of further expansion for the agency-internally through new business and externally via acquisitions, both domestic and abroad-helping the shop take the lead as the largest worldwide direct-marketing agency by the middle of the decade. In 1992 and 1993, Rapp Collins became the first direct-marketing agency of record for Pizza Hut and Pepsi-Cola Co., respectively. The firm rounded out its specializations by acquiring promotions agency U.S. Communications Co., Minneapolis, and Hughes Database Marketing. Shortly thereafter, the agency was renamed Rapp Collins Worldwide.
Its 1994 purchase of the London-based direct-marketing firm WWAV created the largest U.K. direct-marketing agency and allowed Rapp Collins to leverage WWAV's resources to help its U.S. clients expand their direct-marketing efforts into Europe. That same year, Rapp Collins acquired teleservices company Optima Direct, Washington, and direct-response TV specialist Shain Colavito Pensabene Direct, New York; five years later the latter was merged into the media department of Rapp Collins, New York, to form SCP/Rapp Collins Media.
By the end of 1995, Rapp Collins was No. 1 direct-marketing agency in the world, with growth outside the U.S. surpassing its domestic level. Its non-U.S. revenue in 1995 was $96.4 million, a 33.2% increase over the previous year. That year the agency expanded beyond Europe, opening five offices in Latin America and one in Hong Kong.
In 1996, Rapp Collins strengthened its Canadian presence with the acquisition of Communicaide Integrated Marketing Services in Mississauga, Ontario, merging it with Hughes Rapp Collins, also in Canada, to create Rapp Collins Communicaide, whose client roster came to include Glaxo Wellcome, Labatt Breweries of Canada, Sears Canada and United Parcel Service Canada.
The agency's international extension helped it win global accounts from Adobe, which tapped the shop for its North American, European and Pacific Rim businesses, and Dell Computer Corp., which awarded WWAV Rapp Collins its $56 million pan-European direct-marketing account.
In 2000, Rapp Collins landed the $200 million consolidated direct-response ad account of SBC Communications after the latter's acquisition of telecommunications company Ameritech, as well as the $30 million business-to-business account of UPS.
Rapp Collins closed its Minneapolis office in 2001, consolidating its Midwest accounts in Chicago and, two months later, moved many of its Chicago-based accounts to Dallas and New York, essentially making the Chicago office a service shop.
For 2001, Rapp Collins Worldwide had worldwide gross income of $360.2 million, down 0.4% over the year earlier, on billings of $2.4 billion. Its U.S. gross income was $202.2 million, down 6.3% over 2000, on billings of $1.34 billion.