design history January 23, 2018

Creative women who ruled in the Mad Men era

I’m a huge mad men fan. I watched every season in a row and to this day, Peggy Olson remains one of my favorite characters of all time (because she’s a badass lady).

Recently, Mad Men has been brought to surface again due to Eli Rezkallah. This fine-art photographer recreated some of the sexist ads that were produced during the 60s and the 70s. However, in her ads Females are no longer represented as the weak sex; instead, roles and inverted and this time around, men are the ones doing laundry and cooking (see how sexist and degrading it looks now?).

Lots of brands did this kind of campaigns because somehow it was considered normal. Even Heinz and Volkswagen had some very bad ones (I bet you didn’t know that).

But, even though advertising was a sexist, male-oriented world, there were a few Peggys along the way. Luckily, I did my research and I’ll show you that the industry wasn’t just about the Y chromosome.

Badass Ladies from the early advertising era

Carol Calloway and Mary Wells Lawrence. Two names worth sharing and knowing.

In 1960 Carol left University with one “simple” wish: to make money. In order to do so, she applied to work at Campbell-Ewald. Of course, back then it was uncommon for a woman to be a copywriter but still, she thrived and became a fresh breath of air amongst tired, boring man.

On the other hand, Mary Wells Lawrence started working at McCann Erickson also as a copywriter.

Later on, at Jack Tinker and Partners, after some time of being praised for her good work, she felt like she needed more but was declined the presidency of the agency.

This was 1966. Mary could have conformed to not being the president but staying at a very comfortable job. But she wasn’t the type of woman who gives up.

So, instead, she became the most talked woman of Madison Avenue by owning her own agency: Wells Rich Green.

She has done campaigns for brands such as Alka-Seltzer, TWA, and Procter & Gamble and stayed on top of her game for two decades.

I don’t know about you but I was very impressed by these women. In a time that being a woman was a synonym of staying at home and doing chores, they broke the mold and proved they were as capable as their male colleagues.

If you want to know more about Carol, you can read her son’s book Raised By Mad Men: The Son of a Real Life Advertising Mad Man (and Mad Woman). Regarding Mary, she describes her own story in her book A Big Life in Advertising. I have them on my wishlist.

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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