100 Most Influential Women in Advertising

Women in Advertising: The Torchbearers

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Andrea Alstrup

Former VP-Corporate Advertising, Johnson & Johnson

As Johnson & Johnson corporate VP-Advertising Andrea Alstrup carried a big stick -- about $2 billion in marketing spending -- and she used it to try to make TV more palatable for viewing by families. Though she is a veteran of J&J's first Tylenol recall, the massive crisis that remains a blueprint for corporations facing quality-control scares today, Ms. Alstrup's legacy will be her work in creating family-friendly programming. In September 1998, she organized a coalition of blue-chip advertisers that called upon TV networks to put more programming on the air that could be watched by both parents and children. Among the programs the Forum for Responsible Advertisers (now the ANA Alliance for Family Entertainment) helped bring to air are "Gilmore Girls," "Chuck," "Everybody Hates Chris" and "Friday Night Lights."

Peggy Charren

Founder, Action for Children's Television

Many parents have been concerned about their children being influenced by TV advertising to clamor for toys, candy and burgers. But they don't do much about it. Peggy Charren did. This former TV-station executive and entrepreneur grew disturbed upon examining the hours of TV her young daughter watched, describing the stuff as "wall-to-wall monster cartoons." By 1972, she had become president of a group she formed, Action for Children's Television, devoted to bringing about higher-quality material for tykes who thrilled to kiddie programming on the boob tube. Her call for better, more uplifiting material quickly found adherents. Thanks to ACT, hosts of kiddie programs can no longer pitch them toys and other stuff and the number of allowable ad minutes during kids' TV programming has dwindled.

Beth Comstock

Senior VP-Chief Marketing Officer, General Electric

General Electric's Beth Comstock is deep into her second stint on the job after more than two years spent at NBC Universal, where she was president of integrated media, overseeing ad sales and leading up digital-media development, including the $600 million acquisition of iVillage and the launch of Hulu.

Ms. Comstock returned to GE in 2008 and has focused much of the company's marketing content on innovation. Case in point: GE's "Ecoimagination" platform that highlights its use of green technologies. She's also invested significantly in digital content and in carving out a presence on social networks like Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook, where GE recently launched its ambitious HealthyShare app designed to enable users to share health goals with friends. During her tenure, GE has exhibited an eagerness to partner with emerging media companies like Buzzfeed and has also teamed up with media agency OMD to launch a summer startup incubator.

Peggy Conlon

President-CEO, Advertising Council

If there's one name you need to know in the world of public-service advertising, it's Peggy Conlon. As president-CEO of the Advertising Council, she carries the torch for the industry via the nonprofit that distributes public-service announcements on everything from encouraging people to buckle their seatbelts to adopting a child from foster care. During her tenure, the Ad Council has worked on behalf of the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the United Way of America, among many others.

Gertrude Crain

Chairman from 1974 to 1996, Crain Communications

Chairman of Ad Age publisher Crain Communications from 1974 to 1996, Gertrude Crain was well known for her adventurous spirit -- going parasailing, for example, on her 80th birthday. But she was also a legend in the publishing and ad business. She received the Magazine Publishers of America's Henry Johnson Fisher Award, the industry's highest honor, in 1993, and was inducted into the AAF Hall of Fame posthumously in 1997. She passed away in 1996 at age 85.

Evelyn Lauder

Senior Corporate VP, Estée Lauder

She launched Estée Lauder's Clinque brand and was first to don the white lab coat worn by its sales reps. But Evelyn Lauder's biggest mark is the pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness, which with her friend Alexandra Penney in 1991. Ms. Lauder passed away in November at age 75.

Pattie Sellers

Editor-at-Large, Fortune

Editor-at-large at Fortune, and co-chair of Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit. There are few women on this list that Pattie Sellers hasn't interviewed, profiled or included in the Most Powerful Women's network she founded at Fortune. She is the storyteller and chronicler of the influential women in media, marketing, advertising and every other industry, for that matter. However, she is also one of them. She has helmed the annual Most Powerful Women in Business editorial since it began in 1998 and became a community the next year.

The invitation-only event is billed as the "world's premiere gathering of women leaders," and has included speakers such as Warren Buffet, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Martha Stewart, Marissa Mayer and Chelsea Handler. She has since expanded the brand online with daily news and ideas on her blog, Postcards (subtitled "How the Power Players Do It"), and across social media. The franchise she founded, Most Powerful Women, is Fortune's biggest franchise and moneymaker after the Fortune 500.

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