If you think men have driven the advertising industry entirely by themselves, you must be living under a rock. Despite the low percentage of women in high positions, they have had a significant impact on the industry.
Women have forged ahead and lead the way into new frontiers when it comes to advertising. So, let’s take a look at some of the most influential women who have shaped the industry into something new.
Women in Advertising
If you can get a company to temporarily change its name to reflect your contributions for International Women’s day from DDB to DDB&R, you may have made an impact on the industry. Although, we could be wrong.
Phyllis Kenner Robinson has lead and worked on some of the most timeless campaigns that came out of the golden age of advertising (move over Don Draper). She even created the famous Ohrback’s campaign, that drove Executives at VW to skip over the entire RFP / agency search process to instead find “the agency that does Ohrback’s.” Talk about brand recognition.
The VW Beetle creative campaign is considered one of the greatest of all time, and Phyllis was at the helm. Some even claim it kick-started a creative revolution. But it’s just another reason why the industry can’t forget this legendary woman.
Another Woman with a Legacy
Helen was not just successful during her career. She was extremely talented. Helen was the advertising industry’s first-ever female copywriter, and she was a true game-changer for the future of the industry.
Helen created campaigns for Pond’s Cold Cream, the YMCA, Crisco, the Red Cross, even attaining a government account. She also pioneered several types of advertising including ‘advertorials’ that are best described as promoting products while looking similar to the surrounding editorials. Genius.
And if you want to talk about an everlasting impact on the industry, just check out the Helen Lansdowne Scholarship. To this DAY it continues to help women gain internships and roles within the advertising industry!
Christine and J. George Frederick established the League of Advertising. It encouraged all women to seek careers within the advertising industry despite the challenges. Sherunsit.org
Let’s start with a couple of clues for our next female advertising superstar.
This woman forged a revolution with in-store promotions (including time at Macy’s). But that’s not all. One of her greatest accomplishments is what she called the ‘build-up’ for retail advertising. Add to that, the creation of some of the most memorable ads and taglines ever written, and you have yourself an icon.
Although, most called her Bernice Fitz-Gibbon.
Bernice had such an amazing way with writing and words, the students whom she taught were considered “Fitz-trained.” If you had it on your resume, you’d easily get your foot in the door at any agency. Bernice saw where the bar was set, picked it up, and threw it over a fence to let the men try to find it. All the while, she was trail-blazing in the other direction.
Because let’s face it, “Nobody, but nobody, undersells Gimbles!”Bernice Fitz-Gibbon
Do you know who was the first black woman to become VP of a major advertising agency called BBDO? If not, Caroline Robinson Jones claimed this title in 1977.
She epically fought to create a more diverse culture. And considering it is a boy’s club, it was no small feat. It’s hard enough being a woman, but breaking the culture barrier had been unheard of. Yet, Caroline continued to break the glass ceiling for women at a number of agencies.
She didn’t stop there. Caroline took it a step further by founding her own firm! She supported brands including Anheuser-Busch (now AB-InBev) and Goodyear. She’s even featured at the American History museum. How many can say they’ve done the same? Not many, and it’s impressive.
Other Exceptional Women in the Advertising
Mary Wells Lawrence – Lawrence was the first female CEO of a company that was listed on the NYSE. She also co-founded the agency that created “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz” for Alka Seltzer. She also was one of five women who founded “Women on the Web” – wowOwow.
Jean Wade Rindlaub – This woman had amazing insight into what women need and want when it comes to advertising (she also did the research to prove it). Therefore, due to her amazing talent to speak to a woman’s audience, she was quickly promoted to the position of a copywriter. Due to her perspective of the female viewpoint in advertising, her career was mirrored by Peggy Olson’s character in the TV series ‘Mad Men.’
She is considered one of the most influential women in advertising, for a number of other accomplishments including:
- Director of Advertising Women of New York (AANY)
- First woman elected vice president of BBDO
- Advertising Federation of America named her “Advertising Woman of the Year”
- First woman elected to BBDO’s board of directors
- The first recipient of the Printer’s Ink Award (silver medal) awarded by the Advertising Federation of America
Shirley Polykoff – This woman created what is considered to be one of the most successful campaigns in the entire history of advertising. She was the mastermind behind the line “Does she or doesn’t she” for Clairol (while at FC&B). If you are young, you may not recognize the slogan.
But that’s not what makes it successful. What’s truly impressive is her impact on sales. Originally tints and dyes total sales were $25M prior to the campaign launch. After it debuted, tints and dyes skyrocketed to >$200M. Not to mention the percentage of women who dyed their hair increased from 7% to over 50%. How’s that for an impact? Shirley eventually started her own very successful agency.