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Advertising to Women: 1918 and Today

by Nick Faber
Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

The question is as old as advertising itself: How do we reach women?

Two years before passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, the J. Walter Thompson Company ran an ad in Printers’ Ink with its simple but revolutionary answer: hire women.

Ove a period of years, this staff has illustrated that women, thoroughly trained in advertising, working with men, can establish facts which cannot be even approximated by men working alone.

It seems like a quaint notion considering that women have made up over 50% of the advertising industry for at least 20 years. (Source: AAAA [doc])

Now that we are all well-staffed with people who understand a woman’s point of view, we can focus on a new question for the modern ad agency: How do we reach women?

Women at NBCUniversal has the answer. AdPulp’s David Burn boils it down to two avenues: On their smartphones and through their friends. Women@NBCU’s findings show that women are early tech adopters who are open to retailer innovation, and are more social online than men. So they’re more likely to “friend” a brand and to share deals and discounts with friends.

Melissa Lavigne-Delville, VP of Trends and Strategic Insights, Integrated Media at NBCUniversal, says, “As this growing number of digitally-dependent women alters the landscape in unexpected ways, marketers need to react in real-time – super-serving her with highly curated and relevant content, products and information.”

So now that we’ve figured out know how to reach today’s women, we can focus on a the burning question for future advertisers: How do we reach women?


Image Source:
Advertising Ephemera Collection – Database #A0160
Emergence of Advertising in America, 1850-1920
John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History
Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library

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