Women, marketing and advertising: remembering the pioneers of the industry
If anyone is asked about how he imagines the principle of advertising and marketing, he will probably respond with a fairly prototypical image, very similar to the one that has at the beginnings of journalism. He will think in some room about the writing of an old newspaper, full of men dressed in clothes from the 30s or 40s (and surely some would imagine it with a hat), pounding typewriters and smoking like carters, cigar after cigar while they fill everything with smoke and have brilliant ideas at the touch of inspiration. Maybe the image has background sound phones that sound and look more of the 60s or 50s, if the respondent has seen some of the deliveries of the influential tv show Mad Men.
Dismantling the clichés.
But in this visual image – as is also the case when we imagine retro newspapers – there is a rather large failure. Women are missing, that in one grade or another or in one time in another they were also there doing all kinds of jobs. Mad Men itself had Peggy. The passage of time has blurred these women, perhaps because they were not the ones who signed or maybe because they had jobs considered ‘minor’. Or perhaps for the same reasons that so many women in so many other areas and issues have been forgotten throughout history, because at the end of history we have always been told about men.
The pioneers of advertising and marketing have not only been discriminated against by history, but they have also been discriminated against in their own jobs.
“Ask any of the women who worked in advertising during Mad Men’s time. Of course we did not earn the same as a man in the same rank, even though we knew we were doing better. Even space was not evenly distributed. The men had offices with windows; we cubicles”, writes in “Mad Women” Jane Maas, one of those advertising pioneers of the Mad Men era. Maas is the creative behind the famous advertising slogan of New York City and one of those women who made their way into the advertising market of half a century ago.
But the truth is that neither the Peggy of fiction nor the Maas of reality were starting from scratch. In advertising world you can trace pioneers very importants long before them (and possibly, if we could sit down with time and access to newspaper archives and archives, with many more that have not had a name, such as cartoonists from the time of the posters).
The American advertising pioneers
Bernice Fitz-Gibbon became a copy-writer in the early 20’s at the Macy’s department store and from there she started an advertising career that lasted until she founded her own agency in the 50s. In between, she became the best paid woman in the advertising industry. The first art director in the US advertising industry is contemporary to the start of Fitz-Gibbon’s career: it was Nedda McGrath in 1926 at the Blackman agency.
And before, much earlier than all of them, Mathilde C. Weil founded in 1880 the M.C. Weil Agency, being considered the first advertising professional in that country. And a couple, Stanley and Helen Resor, ended up buying the J. Walter Thompson agency a few decades later (which, in fact, still exists today) with a work strategy inspired by the same points on which Mathilde Weil relied (the women buy and women must be announced).
Helen Resor created a team with only women and focused on products for this market. They were pioneers. Not only were they the first to use in the Anglo-Saxon countries the term ‘sex’ in advertising to sell in 1917 or to use nudity for the first time in an advertisement, but also they came to have control of most of the income of the agency. 75% of customers and billing came to be managed by their women’s team. Resor was a pioneer in the use of psychological techniques to connect with the audience or in the testimonies of satisfied clients, but also in using an alternative female image, which broke with the clichés. In one of his ads of the early twentieth century, her protagonist appeared in image playing golf.
In fact, and although they were rather invisible, between 1880 and 1920 there were already women working in the advertising industry in the US in general. The stores and especially the department stores had women working in areas linked to advertising and communication with consumers. In 1919 20 women of this industry came to found in Cleveland, USA, his Women’s Advertising Club.
Women in the advertising industry in Spain
The history of the presence of women in advertising in Spain as a professional may still be about to write or, at least, that is still not in respect to reaching mass communication. Although in the lists of pioneering women who usually publish the generalist media appear many professionals who broke with gender barriers in many territories, the presence of professional women in the world of advertising, marketing and communication is null. This does not mean that women were not in these environments until recently and that we can not find their clue in times past.
The Digital Newspaper Library of the BNE is, as usual, a very good resource to find those first women in the advertising industry. It is difficult to find with a first quick search stories about the Spanish advertising agencies, although they appear in the ads by words, at the feet of other ads and in some news as obituaries of those responsible. In a report (possibly an advertorial) about the advertising agency Publicitas in La Esfera in 1923, we are not told how things will be solved by “businessmen” overwhelmed “by their multiple occupations”. The photos sneak into the day to day of the agency and in them, among the figures in the background, there are several women. Three girls with a fashionable haircut sit in front of typewriters in the section of budgets, advertisements and distribution of ads and another one appears in the address photo. What were these agency workers doing?
It is difficult to know what these women were doing – especially when a rather initial approach to the work of women in the industry is being done – but we must not lose sight of the fact that in the Spanish media scene of the last 200 years there has been women. Perhaps the first journalist in Spain can be dated in the seventeenth century (according to estimates published in some specialized books, others speak of the eighteenth century), but what is clear is that the media ‘for women’ appeared at the beginning of the 19th century and they had their great development throughout that century.
They were the grandmothers of the Cosmopolitan of today, magazines of figurines, fashion tips and lifestyles that also included other types of contents. In these magazines, not only did they write women, but they themselves were the ones who had the management of them in many cases, as can be discovered by reading specialized works such as Fashion and the women’s press of Ana Mº Velasco. These magazines and publications had advertisements and different advertising formats, messages that someone had to create.
And, in addition, some of these publications were even content marketing in their own way. This example has as editor a man (but until a law change towards the end of the nineteenth the magazines always had to have as editor a man). El Hogar, published at the end of the 60s of the 19th century, was the magazine of the Domestic Service Agency. It was the magazine for those looking for workers for household chores.
Source | PuroMarketing