Skip to main content

Tony Franco – Anthony M. Franco (circa early-1970s)

I love history. It gives me perspective – a foundation for understanding where the world is today and the role that my life plays in it. One aspect of this is my career. As I reflected on my role at Franco Public Relations Group, I was inclined to seek out Franco’s past and ask questions about how the company I’ve planted my feet in, became what it is today.

So, as all good historians do, I did a little research – research I’ll be sharing with you in a series of blogs highlighting Franco’s rich history in Detroit. And as you may know, we’ve been sharing our clients’ stories in Detroit for 50 years.

Let’s begin our adventures in Franco’s history, with a quick glimpse of the early years. For those who aren’t so “history buff,” I’ve included pop culture and historical events to provide perspective on the timeline:

  • 1964 – The Beatles crossed the pond, diet Pepsi made its debut and Anthony M. Franco, Inc. was established as an independent public relations agency in Detroit.
  • 1969 –Anthony M. Franco, Inc. began its legacy of working with iconic Detroit brands by signing Stroh’s Brewing Company, just in time for Neil Armstrong to walk on the moon.
  • 1973 – When Secretariat won the Triple Crown, Anthony M. Franco, Inc. signed Deloitte and Touche as a client. (Today, Deloitte remains Franco’s longest standing client, with a partnership lasting more than 30 years.)
  • 1975 – The war in Vietnam ended, and Anthony M. Franco, Inc. was recognized as the first Michigan public relations firm to be listed in the Top 40 national firms.

    Detroit Tigers Assistant Director of Public Relations and Special Events Lew Matlin shared congratulations with Tony Franco for the agency’s national recognition (1975).

  • 1977 – In a galaxy far, far away, Star Wars debuted, and the Renaissance Center opened its doors – Anthony M. Franco, Inc. became one of the building’s first tenants. (Today we remain a tenant of the GM Ren Cen, and retain the building as a client.)

    The Franco team gathered on the stairs at the GM Ren Cen to take a company photo. (circa 1980s)

  • 1980 – Anthony M. Franco, Inc. secured Domino’s Pizza as an account, and Ronald Reagan won the presidential election, ousting incumbent Jimmy Carter.
  • 1985 –Current CEO Dan Ponder joined Anthony M. Franco, Inc. as a vice president of finance, and Marty McFly took a ride in the delorean.
  • 1987 – Anthony M. Franco, Inc. consolidated nearly $4 million in billings, making Franco the largest public relations firm in Michigan, and Mike Tyson beat Bonecrusher Smith for the heavyweight boxing title.
  • 1988 – Anthony M. Franco, Inc. opened offices in New York City and Cleveland while simultaneously signing Kelsey-Hayes as its first $1 million account. Meanwhile, Beetlejuice ran rampant scaring homeowners across the country.
  • 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.

Have a piece of Franco history you’d like to share? Tell us in the comments below, and stay tuned for another “50 in the D” entry detailing Franco’s achievements in the 1990s and 2000s.

Many Franconians contributed to this post.




Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.