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The Advertising Century

Marion Harper Jr.

Published on .

Marion Harper Jr.
Interpublic Group of Cos., New York

Arguably the agency world's most innovative empire builder of the 20th century, Harper, a Yale graduate, began in McCann-Erickson's mailroom in 1939, focused on the research department and became copy research manager in '42. After serving as assistant to founder and President H.K. McCann, Harper in 1948 succeeded McCann. He stepped up motivation research and ad pretesting techniques, began acquiring agencies and by 1961 "turned the ladder horizontal," creating Interpublic Group of Cos., a conglomerate operating separate (and conflict-free) agency divisions along with one-stop, integrated collateral services. Harper's reckless spending, however, led Interpublic directors to oust him in 1967. Harper was belatedly added to the Advertising Hall of Fame in 1998.

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