Pioneering African-American Women in the Advertising Business: Biographies of MAD Black WOMEN, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Pioneering African-American Women in the Advertising Business

Biographies of MAD Black WOMEN, 1st Edition

By Judy Foster Davis


236 pages | 20 B/W Illus.

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Much has been written about the men and women who shaped the field of advertising, some of whom became legends in the industry. However, the contributions of African-American women to the advertising business have largely been omitted from these accounts. Yet, evidence reveals some trailblazing African-American women who launched their careers during the 1960s Mad Men era, and went on to achieve prominent careers. This unique book chronicles the nature and significance of these women’s accomplishments, examines the opportunities and challenges they experienced and explores how they coped with the extensive inequities common in the advertising profession.

Using a biographical narrative approach, this book examines the careers of these important African-American women who not only achieved managerial positions in major mainstream advertising agencies but also established successful agencies bearing their own names. Based on their words and memories, this study reveals experiences which are intriguing, triumphant, bittersweet and sometimes tragic. These women’s stories comprise a vital part of the historical narrative on women and African-Americans in advertising and will be instructive not only to scholars of advertising and marketing history but to future generations of advertising professionals.


"Dr. Judy Davis has crafted a fantastic book that fills a significant gap in the historiography of the advertising industry. The experiences and contributions of African American women to the industry have long been an overlooked aspect of advertising. Yet as Dr. Davis so expertly demonstrates, black women have been some of the most impactful professionals, entrepreneurs, and top creative forces in advertising. As such they have been a force in challenging many of its most demeaning characterizations of African Americans as a group and black women in particular. This book should be required reading for advertising professionals and students of advertising around the country."

Jason P. Chambers, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Illinois

"Dr. Judy Davis has created a powerful book examining the challenges, roles, and contributions of Mad Black Women in the advertising industry, preserving a previously unchartered piece of history. Her comprehensive cultural research and true narrative accounts of shocking racial diversity struggles offers lessons for students, scholars, practitioners, and readers. This ‘behind the scenes’ approach prompts honest discourse and dialogue on issues of race and gender that are still highly relevant. Such compelling stories of how these rare women rose to success, in spite of tremendous obstacles offers hope, yet questions why such diversity issues and barriers still exist today. Together, we will all rise through better understanding such history!"

Sheila Sasser, Dr, Professor of Marketing, Eastern Michigan University, SWOCC Fellow, University of Amsterdam, Adcraft Lifetime Member, AAF, AAA, EAA, Former Advertising Industry Veteran, Senior Vice President, and Managing Director

"Pioneering African-American Women in the Advertising Business offers an important (and corrective) addition to the historiography of advertising. The book provides a detailed account of four admirable success stories. More compellingly, it situates the women’s biographies within the broader historical development of the advertising industry. Despite the efforts of the women in this book, the advertising industry still struggles with issues of diversity and inclusion. This book should be required reading for scholars and practitioners in the field who are concerned with these issues."

Corey D. Fields, Department of Sociology, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA

Table of Contents

1. Women and African-Americans in the Advertising Profession: An Historical Overview of the Industry and People

2. Barbara Gardner Proctor: Unconventional Advertising Pioneer

3. Caroline Robinson Jones: Tenacious Advertising Trailblazer

4. Joel P. Martin: Transformative Artist

5. Carol H. Williams: Marathon Woman

6. African-American Women and Structural Oppression in the Advertising Industry

About the Author


Judy Foster Davis is a Professor of Marketing at Eastern Michigan University, USA. Her research interests concern integrated marketing communications (IMC) strategies and policies; historical and multicultural marketing topics and online pedagogy. She is a graduate of Howard University and Michigan State University.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in the History of Marketing

It is increasingly acknowledged that an awareness of marketing history and the history of marketing thought is relevant for all levels of marketing teaching and scholarship. Marketing history includes, but is not limited to, the histories of advertising, retailing, channels of distribution, product design and branding, pricing strategies, and consumption behaviour – all studied from the perspective of companies, industries, or even whole economies. The history of marketing thought examines marketing ideas, concepts, theories, and schools of marketing thought including the lives and times of marketing thinkers.

This series aims to be the central location for the publication of historical studies of marketing theory, thought and practice, and welcomes contributions from scholars from all disciplines that seek to explore some facet of marketing and consumer practice in a rigorous and scholarly fashion. It will also consider historical contributions that are conceptually and theoretically well-conceived, that engage with marketing theory and practice, in any time period, in any country.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Advertising & Promotion
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Marketing / General
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Corporate & Business History
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Women's Studies
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Discrimination & Race Relations
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gender Studies