Changing The Ratio: Ad Legend Mary Wells Lawrence To Be Honoured With Cannes’ Lion Of St. Mark Award

Changing The Ratio: Ad Legend Mary Wells Lawrence To Be Honoured With Cannes’ Lion Of St. Mark Award

While B&T’s Changing the Ratio has been postponed, that doesn’t mean the conversations around diversity and inclusion need to end. In fact, talking about it is more important than ever.

That’s why B&T is be running an article series, kindly sponsored by CHE Proximity and Adrenalin Media, around why changing the ratio is still paramount, even during these difficult times.

And now one of adland’s most legendary figures, Mary Wells Lawrence, is set to receive the prestigious ‘Lion of St. Mark’ award for her lifetime of services to advertising and creativity.

Now 92 and well retired, Wells Lawrence will be honoured as The Lion of St. Mark through the ‘LIONS Live’ platform on Friday, 26 June. LIONS Live runs from 22 to 26 June. Read more here.

The founder of New York advertising agency Wells Rich Greene, Lawrence was the first woman to found, own and run a major agency, as well as the first woman chief executive of a New York Stock Exchange-listed company.

Within its first year, Wells Rich Greene had 100 employees and $US39 million in billings.

By 1976, it had billings of $US187 million and a client roster that included Procter & Gamble Co., Trans World Airlines, Miles Laboratories, Philip Morris, Bic Pen Corp., Ralston Purina Co., Midas Inc., White-Westinghouse Electric Co. and Sun Oil Co.

In an era of Mad Men, Lawrence shook the tree of the creative industry. She played a key role in paving the way for talented women creatives, creating ads that “etched indelible phrases into the public’s imagination”, according to The New York Observer.

Wells Lawrence’s pioneering career has included resurrecting New York City’s deteriorating image with the now iconic ‘I ♥ New York’ slogan.

She’s also known for uplifting the branding of Braniff Airways with the campaign ‘The End of the Plain Plane’, which, Cannes Lions said, injected a cultural mood of excitement and vitality with airplanes painted in pastel colours and the airline’s hostesses dressed in Gucci-designed uniforms.

“It was the end of the plain plane. Airline advertising and marketing and design would never be the same,” Wells Lawrence said.

“There were groans from other airlines. They complained that the paint made the planes heavy – every airline that told that silly story is now flying fleets of painted planes.”

Throughout her life, Wells Lawrence has directed some of the world’s most memorable campaigns.

Her work for Alka Seltzer, in her words, saw them plotting and scheming “to develop advertising that would seduce every man, woman and child of every age into watching Alka-Seltzer advertising – in fact, to make them look forward to watching it”.

Through campaigns like ‘Plop plop, fizz fizz’, ‘I can’t believe I ate the whole thing’, and ‘Try it, you’ll like it’, Alka Seltzer shook its ageing image, and it became smart to be seen taking it.

In 1971, Lawrence was named ‘Advertising Woman of the Year’ by the American Advertising Federation, and in 1999 was inducted into the American Advertising Hall of Fame.

Her autobiography, A Big Life (in Advertising), was published in 2002.

“Awareness of the time you are in is at the core of any business of persuasion, but I think my particular strength is my belief in passion – caring obviously and emotionally about how important what I am selling is,” Wells Lawrence said.

“I want to leave you feeling about it – nervous if you are doing something else. Like falling in love.”

Wells Lawrence will be honoured as The Lion of St. Mark through the ‘LIONS Live’ platform on Friday, 26 June.

Offering live-streamed and on-demand content, the free digital platform will bring the world’s creative community together to collaborate, learn and problem-solve through a shared purpose of creativity.

“Mary is an extraordinary woman with a drive, passion and talent to burn,” Cannes Lions chairman Philip Thomas said.

“Cannes Lions campaigns for creativity as a force for business but Mary was ahead of the game – she already knew this 50 years ago.

“Her ability to inject entertainment and creativity into her advertising saw her transform the reputations and revenues of many a struggling brand, and she has earnt huge respect and admiration from the industry as a result.

“We’re thrilled to be presenting a true legend with the Lion of St. Mark,” Thomas said.

Special thanks to CHE Proximity and Adrenalin Media for making this content series possible.

 




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