Mary Wells Lawrence, High-Profile Advertising Pioneer, Dies at 95

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When she was 18, she enrolled in the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, where she met Bert Wells. They were married in 1949, divorced in 1952, remarried in 1954 and divorced again in 1965. In 1967 she married Mr. Lawrence, Braniff’s president. Mr. Lawrence died in 2002.

In addition to Ms. Bryan, Ms. Wells Lawrence is survived by another daughter, Pamela Lombard; a stepson, State Lawrence; a stepdaughter, Deborah Lawrence; and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Ms. Wells Lawrence wrote ad copy for a Youngstown department store and was an ad manager for Macy’s in New York in the early 1950s before joining the McCann-Erickson agency in 1953. She rose rapidly, but she felt undervalued. She joined Doyle Dane Bernbach in 1957 and became a $40,000-a-year vice president in 1963. Her first memorable ad was for French tourism — a photo of an old man and a child, behind him, riding a bicycle on a country road.

“Think you’ve seen France?” the caption read. “Think again.”

In 1964, she took a $60,000-a-year senior partnership with Jack Tinker & Partners, one of many agencies in the Interpublic Group. The job, she told Fortune magazine, held “the promise of eventual command.” She and a small group, including Mr. Rich and Mr. Greene, known as “Tinker’s Thinkers,” rented an office away from Madison Avenue’s bustle and devised the Alka-Seltzer and Braniff campaigns.

In 1966, having several high-profile campaigns under her belt and feeling entitled, Ms. Wells Lawrence asked for the presidency of Tinker & Partners. Her boss, Marion Harper Jr., the president and chairman of Interpublic, told her that he would give her presidential authority but not the title — a woman, he said, could not win acceptance as president.



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