Trahey, Jane (1923-2000)

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Jane Trahey was born Nov. 19, 1923, in Chicago. She graduated from Chicago's Mundelein College in 1943 and studied for two years at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. (In 1975, Ms. Trahey received an M.F.A. from Columbia University, New York.) Her first job was in the news morgue of the Chicago Tribune, followed by a position in the survey research department of the Chicago Daily News.

Ms. Trahey then moved to a receptionist job with Chicago department store Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co. and worked her way into her first advertising job as a copywriter for the retailer. Her work brought her to the attention of the upscale department store Neiman-Marcus, which in 1947 lured her to Dallas with a copywriting position.

While she originally planned to stay only two years in Texas, she instead remained with the retailer for almost nine years, eventually becoming advertising and sales director. During her years at Neiman-Marcus, Ms. Trahey won a reputation for innovative fashion copywriting, setting a standard for others to follow. She experimented with color in retail ads and also with scented inks.

In 1956, she moved to New York to open 425 Advertising Associates as the in-house agency for Julius Kayser Inc., a lingerie and hosiery marketer. In 1958, she opened her own agency, Jane Trahey Associates, specializing in fashion and cosmetics advertising. In 1962, the name of the agency changed to Trahey/Cadwell, reflecting the addition of partner Franchellie Cadwell, who died in May 2003.

That partnership lasted only until June 1964, when Ms. Cadwell and Ms. Trahey dissolved the business arrangement. Operating as Trahey Associates/Advertising and then in 1965 as Trahey Advertising, the agency's clients included Charles of the Ritz, Elizabeth Arden, Pauline Trigere, Rob Roy Shirts for Boys and the textile division of Union Carbide Corp. By 1966, the agency was billing about $2.5 million and had 18 employees.

In 1967, the name of the agency was changed again, this time to Trahey/Wolf Advertising, reflecting the addition of Art Director Henry Wolf as a partner; that arrangement lasted until 1972, when Mr. Wolf left and Ms. Trahey returned to doing business as Trahey Advertising. In 1976, Peter Rogers, an exec VP at the agency, became a partner, and the shop was renamed Trahey/Rogers Advertising. In 1978, Ms.Trahey herself left to become a consultant, selling the shop to Mr. Rogers.

Over the course of her advertising career, Ms. Trahey received more than 200 awards, including the American Advertising Federation's 1969 Advertising Woman of the Year honor. Her chief campaigns included those for Bill Blass, Calvin Klein, Elizabeth Arden and Olivetti typewriters. Among the well-remembered slogans she created were, "Foot-loose and Famolare!" for Famolare footwear and "It's not fake anything, it's real Dynel" for Union Carbide's synthetic hair.

Perhaps Ms. Trahey's best-known campaign was that for Blackglama mink, which she created with Mr. Rogers in 1968 for the Great Lakes Mink Association. The effort featured women so well known they did not need to be identified by name in the ads to be recognized. In each ad a single celebrity, wearing a mink coat and shot by top photographer Richard Avedon, was featured along with the line, "What becomes a legend most?" The celebrities, who received a mink coat and the portrait by Mr. Avedon as payment, included Lauren Bacall, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Rita Hayworth, Leontyne Price and Barbra Streisand.

Ms. Trahey also was active in the feminist movement, creating public-service advertising for the National Organization for Women Legal Defense & Education Fund, and serving as VP and a member of the board for that branch of the organization.

After leaving the agency, Ms. Trahey continued to work as a consultant while writing and lecturing. She died at her home in Kent, Conn., on April 22, 2000.


Born in Chicago, Nov. 19, 1923; graduated from Mundelein College, 1943; became a copywriter for Neiman-Marcus, Dallas, 1947; opened 425 Advertising Associates, New York, an in-house agency for Julius Kayser Inc., 1956; opened Jane Trahey Associates, New York, 1958; received M.F.A. from Columbia University, 1975; sold agency to Peter Rogers, 1978; died in Kent, Conn., April 22, 2000.

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