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mcdonalds McRed Army - Frank Palmer


Yesterday, Frank Palmer was featured in a Strategy Daily article, with the headline ‘Fun with Frank’.

I adore Frank Palmer … I am not sure I have ever told him that, but Frank is my mentor, my hero … my superman in the ad business.

After reading the ‘Fun with Frank’ article a couple of times … my memories of gut wrenching, side splitting, cheek aching laughter came flooding back to me, and you can guess who was at the centre of it all … Frank Palmer!

I was a young kid starting my first big, real, intimidating advertising agency job in August of 1989 at Vickers and Benson. I had been hired as an Account Manager on the McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada business.

Back then, the McDonald’s business was divided up regionally. Vickers and Benson had the assignment for both Ontario and National. Cossette had Quebec, and Frank Palmer (Palmer Jarvis) had the west.

I had been with V&B for 1 week when the word came down from above that all of us were invited to the mothership (McDonald’s head office in Chicago), to receive our 10 year anniversary award. As much as this was an award for V&B, all of the heads of the other regional agencies were also invited … and yes of course this included Frank Palmer.

When we all arrived at the hotel in Chicago, a message for each us had been left from Frank to meet him in his suite at 4:00pm that afternoon. We figured it was all about acceptance speeches and seating arrangements for the big, formal, gala dinner that evening (when were to receive our award).

When we entered Frank’s suite we were shocked to see 50 sets of red long johns laid out on the bed … each pair featuring the yellow McDonald’s arches next to the hammer and sickle. There were also 50 matching grey ‘Russian’ fur hats with the McDonald’s logo on them.

We were all asked to select our size, take them to our rooms and put them on for the dinner.

As I mentioned, that was the big, formal, black tie, huge Chicago hotel ballroom affair. Of course, that was exactly why Frank did it. Plus the fact that George Cohen had just opened the first McDonald’s in Red Square, and as the Canadians, Frank wanted us to show the world how proud we were!

After picking up our long johns, we had about an hour before dinner. Some of the more creative and inventive Canadians headed to the dollar store to buy gold brocade and sequins … anything they could lay their hands on to ‘glam up’ the underwear they were about to wear to dinner.

McRed ArmyOne incredibly creative Canadian somehow managed to find a location where they could have stickers produced in under an hour. In the picture  you can see some of the guests donning the white circular stickers with black writing. Each sticker read – ‘Thanks Frank Palmer … no one asked me to dance!’

Take a look at the 3rd row from the floor, on the far right hand side … there he is … Frank Palmer sporting the devilish grin that defines him.

Thanks Frank Palmer, you were right … no one asked me to dance, but you taught me everything I know about the business … including the most important part … how to have fun!


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mcdonalds McRed Army - Frank