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The first AdWoman

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Oct
6,
2011
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I started wondering last night who she was. Every day we read interviews and get the latest news about talented AdWomen so we keep updated. But what happened to the early ones? Keeping up to date also means knowing the facts from days gone by. We already know the big names for Ad Men: David Ogilvy, Leo Burnett, Bill Bernbach and so on, but where are the ladies? The Lauras, Dianes and Natalies?

According to my research, her name is Mary Wells Lawrence. A Junior Copywriter that ascended to become the first woman to found and run her own agency. Her glamour, lifestyle, taste and advertising legend status stemmed from her achievements during the ’60s and ’70s at McCann-Erickson, Doyle Dane Bernbach and Interpublic’s Jack Tinker & Partners.

She became the founding president of Wells Rich Greene, an advertising agency known for its innovative work. Mary promoted taking two Alka Seltzers rather than one for better relief and quickly doubled its sales. She also created campaigns such as “P l o p p l o p , f i z z f i z z ”, “ I c a n ‘ t b e l i e v e I a t e t h e w h o l e t h i n g” ( w i n n e r o f t h e 1 9 7 1 C l i o A w a r d ) as well as the famous TV ad “I love New York”.

Mary was the first female CEO of a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange and the youngest member to be inducted into the Copywriters Hall of Fame. She ended the decade as the highest paid advertising executive in America. And if this is not enough, she became the first woman in America to head two advertising agencies – J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy & Matter. No one, male or female, has done so since.

Wow! Impressive, what a first AdWoman!
That made me think: How ambitious are we? How far do we plan to go? I reckon things are easier now than were in the past therefore we should go even further. But what is the secret to success? Does it depend on working harder than anyone else, on being surrounded by the right people or does it depend on having a goal on mind and pursuing it?

I believe success depends on whom we compare ourselves with. Human beings teach us to compete. That’s why we like going to conferences, reading biographies, case studies, listening to different success stories, to get the inspiration and have the balls that the first AdWoman had.

Martha Tolosa

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