I joined McCormick-Armstrong Advertising Agency in Wichita, Kansas in the early 1980s. The agency was a subsidiary of McCormick-Armstrong printers on Douglas Avenue—the firm was founded by A.G. McCormick in 1901 as McCormick Press. Housed what was once the J. Arch Butt Packard Building, the firm was set in its ways.
My first day on the job I was photographed—the agency had a huge in-house photo studio and a full-time photographer—so my mug could be slapped on a business card. To this day that card remains the only vertical, half-fold-open, letterpress (with white foil stamp), back-printed business card that I’ve ever had. (Can you say, “Everything but the kitchen sink?”)
I signed off on the press proof nearly 37 years ago. The proof was printed on a fairly smooth, tan card stock. It wasn’t totally hateful. I did question the format, the font, and the fold. I also asked why the ID lines appeared left of center while the McAAA logo seemed to be set a bit right. I questioned quite a bit, actually.
The agency’s president, Fred Menefee said, “It’s a legacy corporate design. If you want to suggest something else we’re open to seeing what you’ve got.” Mc-A’s corporate colors were orange, white, and black.
When the actual cards arrived on my desk a few days later, all twenty-five hundred of them, I was horrified. Somehow, I’d managed to go through the entire hiring process without ever seeing an actual McCAAA business card.
There they were: Boxes and boxes of cards printed on heavily-textured, orange—not rust or terra cotta, but a vibrant persimmon-colored stock. My face looked like the great pumpkin. Everyone in the agency had the same style business card—and they all looked like the great pumpkin.
During my rather short time with the agency, I was unsuccessful in changing their business card design (or corporate color system). But each year, each October—for the past three-and-a-half decades—as Halloween approaches, I remember that orange card sporting my orange face, and I smile a little. Just a little.