Mary Wells Lawrence honoured with lifetime achievement at Cannes Lions

The 92-year-old led a life of many firsts in the industry

NEW DELHI: "I love New York!”

“Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is.”

“Flick your Bic.”

Recognize any of these jingles? All of these iconic ads were created under the supervision of Mary Wells Lawrence. She brought a burst of colours to otherwise boring and bland television screens.  

The 92-old year, Lawrence was one of the trailblazers of the advertising world. Cannes Lions on 26 June, presented the prestigious lifetime achievement award, the Lion of St. Mark.  

The in-person festival was cancelled this year due to the pandemic.

Lawrence who has had a successful advertising career is the founder of the New York advertising agency, Wells Rich Greene established in the year 1966. She was the first woman to found, own and run a major ad agency. She was one of the first female CEOs of a company which was traded on the Big Board of the New York Stock Exchange.

Within its first year, Wells Rich Greene had 100 employees and $39 million in billings. By 1976, it had billings of $187 million and a client roster that included Procter & Gamble, Trans World Airlines, Miles Laboratories, Philip Morris, Bic Pen Corp, Ralston Purina Co, Midas Inc, White-Westinghouse Electric Co and Sun Oil Co. The New York Observer said that the agency was responsible for creating ads that “etched indelible phrases into the public’s imaginations.”

Her work in the field of advertising has been recognised all over. That’s not it, Lawrence was named Advertising Woman of the Year by the American Advertising Federation in 1971, and was inducted into the American Advertising Hall of Fame in 1999. In 2002, Mary also published her autobiography A Big Life (in Advertising).

Throughout her lifetime Wells Lawrence has directed a host of notable campaigns. 

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

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

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