Mary Wells Lawrence

Celebrating the life of Mary Wells Lawrence

In the realm of advertising, few figures stand as tall as Mary Wells Lawrence. A pioneering force in the male-dominated advertising landscape of Madison Avenue during the 1960s, Lawrence blazed a trail that inspired countless others. 

She passed away last week at the age of 95, but here at Stick No Bills® she has always been, and always will, inspire us with her bold vision and unyielding determination.

Mary Wells Lawrence was an iconic figure in the American advertising business, known as the first woman to lead a major advertising agency and the first female CEO of a company traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Her pioneering spirit and groundbreaking work at Wells Rich Greene BDDP and Doyle Dane Bernbach shaped the landscape of Madison Ave and set new standards for ad campaigns.

As an author and advertising luminary, Mary Wells Lawrence left an indelible mark on the industry, and inspiring generations to come.

We are proud to promulgate an official, licensed collection of travel destination marketing posters created by order of Braniff International, both from her time at the helm as well as before, highlighting their timeless style and composition, now remastered for a new vitality thanks to modern technology, inks and paper that allows these masterpieces to be preserved for future generations.

As well as shattering barriers, transforming the advertising industry and leaving an indelible mark on American culture, one of Lawrence's most iconic campaigns was for Braniff International Airways, where she revolutionised the entire concept of airline travel.

In an era where airports and planes resembled ‘drab prison camps’ as she called them, Lawrence saw an opportunity to inject some of the colour and rebellious freedom of 60’s counter-culture into the skies.

“I saw Braniff in a wash of colour,” she is reported to have said, and thus created for the airline and all its insignia a world of colour and creativity that changed airline travel forever.

Under Lawrence's guidance, Braniff's airplanes became canvases for bold hues, each painted nose to tail in vibrant colours like ocher, orange, and turquoise.

Interiors were decorated in Herman Miller fabrics, while terminal lounges went from being utilitarian warehouses to stylish destinations boasting art from Mexico and South America.

Flight attendants became fashion icons, donning Emilio Pucci ensembles that captivated passengers and the public imagination.

The result was nothing short of spectacular. Braniff became a symbol of youthful jet-set culture, experiencing an 80% leap in business virtually overnight.

Lawrence's visionary campaign, aptly titled "The End of the Plain Plane," captured the imagination of travellers worldwide, cementing Braniff's status as a trendsetter in the aviation industry.

A legacy that continues into the present day and includes their marketing poster artworks, today collectible fine art prints in their own right.

Each piece in our officially licensed Braniff International Collection celebrates the intersection of fashion, art, design and travel, echoing Lawrence's pioneering spirit and commitment to innovation.

As we reflect on Lawrence's extraordinary career, we're reminded of her fearless pursuit of creative excellence, driving us to push boundaries and redefine what's possible. 

Thank you, Mary Wells Lawrence, for daring to dream and for showing us the power of imagination.


Image: Braniff International Public Relations Archives, History of Aviation Collection, UT-Dallas

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We would like to thank Kelly Slater for his condolences.