Famous Advertisers in History: Mary Wells Lawrence

Jessica Swanda
7 min readApr 22, 2018

“I love New York!”

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

“Flick your Bic.”


Recognize any of these jingles? What about the picture above— does it look familiar?

All of these iconic ads were created under the direction of Mary Wells Lawrence. She and her agency brought a burst of color into their day’s bland television advertising scene by breaking commonly accepted rules and taking huge risks.

Her advertising didn’t just reinvent a company’s brand; sometimes, it reinvented the company itself!


Mary enjoyed using her background in theater in her television commercials. Her advertising philosophy was to sell dreams. She looked beyond the products’ face value and found new, exhilarating reasons for customers to buy them, then presented them in a theatrical way on screen. Selling dreams and making commercials more entertaining and dramatic were new, edgy ideas at the time, introduced largely by Mary.

She began gaining national attention for her copywriting at the growing agency Doyle Dane Bernbach. There she became good friends with legendary Bill Bernbach and had a hand in some of their most memorable advertising. From there, she went on to join Jack Tinker & Partners, a think tank ready to become an advertising agency and hoping Mary could make it happen.


Jack Tinkers & Partners’ first account was Alka-Seltzer. The majority of Alka-Seltzer’s customer base was growing older, and to everyone else, their image was tied to hangovers and gluttony. No one wanted to be seen taking it, and young people felt it was only for older people.

At the time, drug advertising was almost as painful to watch as the symptoms you were feeling. The ads usually focused on the pain and discomfort that the drugs would ease, making them less than pleasant to watch. Mary and her team decided to entertain with their ads, in an effort to hold people’s attention long enough for them to realize Alka-Seltzer was a truly helpful, modern product.

Jessica Swanda

Freelance writer. Travels the USA full time with her husband. Writes about travel, faith, books, and business. More about me: https://proofisinthewriting.com/