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Mad Women: Creating Female Marketing History

Updated: Mar 27, 2022



Women’s History Month constitutes remembrance towards the influential women who have paved the way for future generations to come, and embodies a hope for the continuation of progress. While many occupations have not only been male dominated but also predominantly female exclusionary, women have been pioneering the marketing industry since 1880. It is regularly assumed that women merely represent the majority of the consumer population, but remain ignorant to the fact that women hold approximately 60% of marketing jobs in the U.S. today. As time goes on women will continue to climb the social, economic, and political rankings through their perseverance, intellect, and creativity. With Women’s History Month upon us, it is pertinent to recognize and remember the influential female marketers who have revolutionized the marketing industry.

Mathilde C. Weil

Little information has been documented on Mathilde C. Weil’s life, but nonetheless she left a lasting impact as the founder of the first female-run advertising agency. The 1880’s were a time of great gender inequality; therefore, any woman determined to run an ad agency would have no choice but to build her own. From Philadelphia herself, approximately 20 years after the Civil War, Mathilde started the M.C. Weil Agency.



Madam C.J. Walker

Madam C.J. Walker is known as being one of the first American women to become a self-made millionaire. Born as Sarah Breedlove on a cotton plantation in Louisiana, Walker’s success illustrates great triumph and strength. Later in life, Madam C.J. Walker developed a scalp condition that greatly impacted her hair growth and health. In an attempt to better her hair's condition, she began experimenting with homemade remedies. Eventually her formula and method were established, allowing Walker to travel throughout the South promoting her products as well as sharing demonstrations, referred to as the “walker method”. As her products' popularity expanded, Walker opened her own factory in 1908.



Helen Lansdowne Resor

Helen Lansdowne Resor was the Vice President of the J. Walter Thompson Co American advertising company. The New York Herald Tribune referred to her as the greatest copywriter of her generation. Furthermore, her accomplishments are seemingly endless. Resor is known as the first woman to both creatively design and develop national advertising campaigns. In her campaign for the Woodbury Soap Company, Resor was one of the first to use sex appeal in an advertisement. Through her success, Helen Lansdowne Resor actively mentored young women and built an inclusive environment for women to become involved in advertising. Today she is featured in the Advertising Hall of Fame.



Caroline Robinson Jones

Caroline Robinson Jones began her career as a secretary and copyright trainee. At J. Walter Thompson Co. she was promoted to a creative director position. By 1968 she joined Zebra Associates, one of the first black-owned advertising agencies. During her time at Zebra Associates, Jones was promoted to Vice President, a significant accomplishment, as she was the first black female VP of a major agency. Some of her notable projects include American Express, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Toys R Us.






Mary Wells Lawrence

Mary Wells Lawrence co-founded the Wells Rich Greene advertising agency. The company quickly became known for its humorous and creative advertising which allowed it to climb the ranks. Wells Rich Greene went public in 1968, and at this time Lawrence became the first female CEO of a company traded on the New York Stock Exchange. During her time, she notably developed an influential campaign for Alka Seltzer. In 1971 Mary Wells Lawrence was named Advertising Woman of the Year by the American Advertising Federation. By 1999 she was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame.





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