Most Influential Women in Advertising

In an Ad Age special report, the magazine reviews the most influential women in advertising from current marketing powerhouses like Oprah to the women who started it all, the special section truly honors the “Mad Women” of our industry.

A few interesting women of note:

Christine Frederick
Founder, Advertising Women of New York

“She decided that bath tubs and breakfast foods and other modern things were good; not alone because she was asked vigorously to decide, but equally [as] much because they fitted in with the trend and logic of her thinking about family hygiene and diet,” wrote Christine Frederick in her 1929 book “Selling Mrs. Consumer.”

A home economist and consulting editor for Ladies’ Home Journal at the turn of the 20th century, Ms. Frederick founded Advertising Women of New York in 1912 after being denied access to an event held by the all-male Advertising League.

However she is best know for the book quoted above, which helped to redefine women’s role in the economy. In it she argued that women play a key role in the consumer economy and that advertising should be used to inform them of things that would improve their lives.

Cathy Hughes
Chairperson and Founder, Radio One

Cathy Hughes became the first African-American woman to head a publicly traded company in 1998 when Radio One went public. It was a long road that began in 1973 when she became sales manager at Howard University’s radio station and bought her first radio station in 1980, WOL AM in Washington.

She pioneered the “quiet storm” nighttime format at Howard and “24-hour talk from a black perspective” at WOL. She began assembling the Radio One network in the ’90s, which now has 53 stations in 15 markets. An outspoken advocate for African-American issues, Ms. Hughes has also been called the most powerful woman in radio. Now her influence is expanding: In 2004, Radio One teamed with Comcast to create cable channel TV One, with goal of creating and delivering programming from the African-American point of view.


Helen Lansdowne Resor
Copywriter, J. Walter Thompson

She’s been called the first female copywriter, but she could also be called advertising’s first feminist. On the ad side, Helen Lansdowne Resor was one of the first writers to inject sexuality into advertisements, via what was probably her most famous work, for Woodbury’s Facial Soap. The ad, ranked as No. 31 in Ad Age’s “Top campaigns of the century,” showed a man embracing a woman accompanied by the headline “A Skin You Love to Touch.”

Alongside her husband, Stanley Resor, Ms. Resor built J. Walter Thompson into one of the biggest and most-successful ad agencies ever. She has been credited with pioneering celebrity endorsements and hiring women in positions where they could make a difference until her death in 1964. But while she kept feminism alive and well in the halls of the agency, she didn’t forget about the outside world, taking part in suffragette marches and enlisting the agency’s women for the cause.


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A marketing communications professional helping other marketing professionals, business leaders and marketing students gain a better understanding of trends in advertising and public relations as well as tips for being a successful marketer.

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