Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

Women in marketing: Meet the marketer who paved the way for women’s voices in the advertising world! [Monday: Marketing Marvels]

August 7, 2023

Miles Everson’s Business Builder Daily speaks to the heart of what great marketers, business leaders, and other professionals need to succeed in advertising, communications, managing their investments, career strategy, and more.

A Note from Miles Everson:

Happy Monday!

We hope you’re doing well.

Let’s talk about outstanding people in the fields of marketing and business. Every start of the week, we explore these individuals’ experiences, insights, and contributions to those industries.

Today, you’ll learn about a marketer who pioneered some of the notable marketing tactics that are used nowadays.

Keep reading below to know more about this person.

Miles Everson
CEO, MBO Partners
Chairman of the Advisory Board, The I Institute

Marketing Marvels

In 1911, a marketer revolutionized the marketing world with this tagline:

“A skin you love to touch.”

The tagline was attention-grabbing and intriguing. It was part of an ad that featured the image of a woman enjoying a man’s attention. At the time, this caused quite a stir because it was the first ad that utilized sensuality as a marketing tactic.

Despite the controversy, the campaign brought tremendous success to the product being promoted: Woodbury Soap.

Photo from Alchetron

Thanks to this game-changing campaign, the product experienced a 1000% increase in sales over a span of 8 years!

What’s more?

This campaign was only one of this marketer’s many contributions to the industry!

In fact, her achievements are so impactful that even after a century, her contributions continue to impact the marketing industry.

Her name?

Helen Lansdowne Resor!

Photo from Advertising Hall of Fame

Resor was known as a master of conversion writing and one of the best copywriters of her time. She used her skills to create groundbreaking marketing campaigns throughout her career.

She was appointed as the first female head copywriter at the advertising agency J. Walter Thompson (JWT) in 1908. She eventually partnered with her husband, Stanley Resor, to manage the company and transformed JWT from a media broker for religious publications into a highly influential marketing company.

With progressive views on society and advertising, Resor rejected hierarchies in agencies where select individuals controlled most of the creative process for campaigns. Instead of this command structure, she preferred consensus-based decisions.

What else?

Recognizing the importance of women consumers in marketing success, she established and led a Women’s Editorial Department with female members who had a deeper understanding of female perspectives.

Eventually, the department gained substantial billing strength and surpassed more than half of JWT’s revenue by 1918!

Her achievements don’t stop there!

Resor’s influence and brilliance extended far beyond JWT. Throughout her career, she made invaluable contributions that made her one of the most influential marketers of all time.

Here are some of Resor’s notable achievements in the marketing industry:

  1. Resor made history as the first woman to successfully create, lead, and execute a national ad (rather than retail) campaign, elevating femininity and paving the way for future female-centric marketing endeavors. 
  1. She was the first woman to present to the board of Proctor and Gamble (P&G) and to create ads for P&G and Red Cross, a significant milestone that helped open doors for female voices in the marketing industry.
  1. Her influence extended beyond her creative brilliance, as she championed the cause of women in marketing by being the first to lead initiatives that helped support and empower female professionals in the field. 

These initiatives were even more remarkable considering the limited work opportunities and legal rights available to women in 1911. 

  1. Her valuable contributions to the world of marketing were posthumously recognized in 1967, when she was inducted into the prestigious Advertising Hall of Fame.
  1. Aside from the successful Woodbury Soap campaign, she executed effective marketing campaigns for widely recognized brands like Crisco, Cutex, Yuban, and Maxwell House Coffee. Her ability to craft impactful campaigns for such prominent brands cemented her reputation as a talented and influential marketer.

Resor’s innovative achievements became the foundations of many marketing techniques we know today such as utilizing sensuality in ads and female-centric approaches that broke boundaries in marketing.

In examining Resor’s remarkable career, here are the valuable lessons that can be applied in today’s marketing landscape:

  1. Know the ins and outs of your product

Knowing your product inside and out helps you easily identify its strengths, benefits, and appeal. This knowledge can help you effectively communicate your product’s value and establish a meaningful connection with your target audience.

This is something Resor kept in mind when she created the Woodbury Soap ad. In 1910, changes in population demographics and social trends influenced consumer preferences and needs. Immigrants, in particular, had significant concerns regarding hygiene.

With these shifts in mind, Resor reimagined and reintroduced Woodbury as a skin-care product. This way, she presented it as a product that promoted cleanliness. 

  1. Know your target market

Resor emphasized the significance of consumer research. She ensured that JWT copywriters and illustrators gained practical experience by engaging in direct sales activities and interacting with customers. 

This hands-on approach allowed the creatives to develop a deeper understanding of consumers’ needs, desires, and frustrations, which in turn helped them create more impactful and effective marketing campaigns.

  1. Offer valuable and meaningful content

Resor wrote content that aimed to inspire and assist her customers by providing them with practical information and tips that they could apply in their daily lives.

In her Woodbury Soap advertisements, Lansdowne simplified the science of skincare, explaining how new skin replaces the old, and presented the product as a treatment that would help readers achieve more beautiful skin. 

Her copy provided readers with a step-by-step process of how to use Woodbury Soap for best results. This simple, informative guide helped readers improve their skincare routine and helped promote the brand itself to a wider audience.

  1. Elevate your product through celebrity endorsements

Resor was the first to advertise products using celebrity testimonials. She transformed endorsement advertising by featuring society leaders and royalty in her Pond’s Cold Cream ads. She would also quote celebrities’ positive reviews or stories about using the featured product in her ads. 

This effectively enticed consumers to buy a product that well-known celebrities approved of. Linking products to figures who people are familiar with allows them to connect with something more tangible—a person and their experience, rather than just the product itself. 

By featuring celebrities in advertisements, the product is elevated by their popularity and status. 

  1. Promise consumers real results 

In the beginning of the 20th century, it was a norm in the marketing industry for companies to exaggerate about their product’s quality in their copies. The main goal was to maximize product sales by tailoring their advertisements to the desires of their target audience, even if it meant stretching the truth.

Resor, on the other hand, was an honest marketer. She championed her client’s product while keeping her copies believable and truthful.

By doing so, consumers were persuaded to try the product because of what it could truly offer. They were more likely to repurchase it when the product’s quality and effectiveness met the ad’s promise.

  1. Utilize captivating images to evoke emotions

Resor recognized the effectiveness of beautiful images in marketing. Her ads were visually appealing and were designed in a way that made them easy to read and pleasant to look at. 

She would hire well-known artists like Alonzo Kimball and Edward Steichen to create illustrations and photographs for her campaigns.

By capturing readers’ attention with stunning imagery, consumers were next drawn into the compelling sales copy, which in turn translated into product sales and lasting brand recall.

Whenever you think about promoting your brand or product, draw inspiration from Resor’s bold approach in marketing!

Push boundaries, embrace unconventional tactics, and find unique ways to connect with your target audience. This way, you can elevate your marketing efforts and experience remarkable growth in the industry’s ever-changing business landscape.

(This article is from The Business Builder Daily, a newsletter by The I Institute in collaboration with MBO Partners.)

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Monday Marketing Marvels”

Too often, industry experts and the marketing press sing the praises of some brand or company’s marketing strategy.

… only for the audience to later find out that its product was a flop, or worse, that the brand or company went bankrupt.

The true ROI in marketing can’t be separated from the business as a whole.

What good is a marketing case study if one can’t prove that the company’s efforts actually paid off?

At the end of the day, either the entire business is successful or it isn’t. And the roles of marketing and communication are always paramount to that success.

Every Monday, we publish a case study that highlights the world’s greatest marketing strategies, marketers, and communicators.

However, the difference between our articles and the numerous ones out there is that we will always make certain that the firm really did generate and demonstrate earning power worthy of study in the first place (compliments of Valens Research’s finance group) in keeping with a person’s leadership skills in the area of marketing and/or communication.

We’ll also study the greatest marketing fails and analyze what they did wrong, or what they needed to improve. We all make our mistakes, but better we learn from others’ mistakes—and earlier, rather than later.

Hope you found this week’s marketing marvel interesting and helpful.

Stay tuned for next week’s Monday Marketing Marvels!


Kyle Yu
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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