I’m a 90s kid. I spent arguably the best decade of my life rocking pink and yellow overalls with scrunchies and Tamagotchi in hand. It’s safe to say I had no idea 25 years ago, that I’d be sitting at a desk inside Detroit’s most iconic building today, working with some of the Motor City’s most well-regarded brands and for the state’s oldest independent public relations firm. Long before I could fathom what the words public relations meant, the team at Anthony M. Franco, Inc. was committed to excellence and offering clients the most strategic and innovative services in communications.
While a lot has changed in those 25 years, public relations remains a powerful tool for building your brand, raising awareness and connecting with your audiences. So, let’s take a look at how the legacy Franco Public Relations Group developed while my Tamagotchi slowly turned into an iPhone.
As in our last “50 in the D” entry, I’ve included pop culture and historical events to provide perspective on the timeline:
- 1990 – Nelson Mandela was released from prison, and Anthony M. Franco, Inc. became a subsidiary of Ross Roy Communications, bringing the agency into a new era.
- 1993 – Bill Clinton was sworn in as the 42nd president of the United States of America, and Dan Ponder joined by colleagues Chuck Regan, George Sepetys and Stephen Friedman, lead the management buyout of Anthony M. Franco, Inc. from Ross Roy Group.
- 1994 –Detroit’s larger than life PR guy Tony Franco retired, and Anthony M. Franco, Inc. became known as Franco Public Relations Group. Meanwhile, Hulk Hogan defeated Ric Flair to earn the WCW world wrestling championship title – that’s big news, brother!
- 1997 – Everyone’s favorite baby face Beatle was knighted Sir Paul McCartney, and Lisa Vallee-Smith became a partial owner of Franco Public Relations Group. Vallee-Smith later left Franco to open the Airfoil Group.
- 1998 –Franco Public Relations Group was awarded account work for the North American International Auto Show, and Pottermania began as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone hit the U.S. market.
- 2000 – While the rest of the world was living in the shadow of Y2K, Dan Ponder became a full owner of Franco Public Relations Group.
- 2000 – Maria Leonhauser became a minority owner of Franco Public Relations Group, and one year later Apple, Inc. released the iPod.
- 2000 – Franco Public Relations Group played an extra-large role in winning the bid for Super Bowl XL.
- 2002 –Nickelback topped the charts with “How you remind me” and Franco Public Relations Group acquired PR Associates.
- 2007 – Tina Kozak joined the Franco Public Relations Group team as account manager, and Carrie Underwood won a Grammy for best new artist. Plus, Apple revolutionized the cell phone industry with the introduction of the original iPhone.
- 2013 – NBC announced TV Hall of Famer Jay Leno would be leaving the Tonight Show. Meanwhile, Maria Leonhauser retired and Tina Kozak became Franco’s youngest president.
- 2014 – Ellen DeGeneres stirred up a selfie phenomenon with the infamous impromptu group photo at The Oscars, and Franco Public Relations Group celebrated 50 years of business in Detroit with 20 percent revenue and employment growth.
- 2015 – Franco Public Relations Group kicked off the start of a new half-century and look forward to reaching 100.
Have a Franco memory from the 90s and millennium you’d like to share? Tell us in the comments below, and stay tuned for another “50 in the D” entry highlighting Franco today.