March is Women’s History Month. To celebrate, this blog is dedicated to one of the leading ladies of advertising – Helen Lansdowne Resor.
Resor worked at J. Walter Thompson from 1908 to 1964. She was their first female copywriter and led the women’s editorial department. But being a first-hired isn’t what makes her remarkable. Resor influenced lasting changes in the advertising agency industry, and her accomplishments are still felt today.
She is credited with developing “feature story” advertising; ads that resemble the surrounding editorial in the magazine. These ads tapped into readers’ emotions through copy and illustrations. She’s known for insisting that copy “be believable.” Her ideas weren’t just new for new sake; they made their clients (and the agency) lots of money.
Her ad for Woodbury facial soap in 1910 re-positioned the brand with the headline, “A skin you love to touch.” The copy explained that using the product would increase the beauty of one’s skin and featured a painting of a man caressing a woman’s skin. That type of “sex appeal” in beauty products was not common at the time. Surely Resor didn’t know the concept of Movie in the Mind, but she sure understood it. This ad was so successful. It not only brought the client years of increased sales but was also ranked #31 on Advertising Age’s list of the top 100 campaigns of the 20th century.
We also greatly admire Resor because she was so passionate about mentoring young women in advertising. At BrandTuitive, we value development of people and spend a lot of time coaching passionate newcomers in our industry. She believed in paying it forward, and we do, too.
She was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame in 1967 and named #14 on the list of 100 Advertising People of the 20th Century by Advertising Age. Helen, thank you. You’ve helped us all come a long way, Baby!