Celebrating 100 years of women in advertising & communications leadership

WACL's first President, Marion Lyons and our 100th, Rania Robinson
WACL members at Coronation Ball, WACL archive at History of Advertising Trust
WACL members at Coronation Ball. WACL Archive at History of Advertising Trust

2023 is WACL’s Centenary year

WACL has a rich 100 year history of championing gender equality in advertising and communications, set against the fascinating backdrop of the 20th Century.

In our centenary year, we will be remembering the industry trailblazers who founded WACL and their impact on the industry. We will be looking to the future with a campaign to ensure better representation of women in advertising. And we will – of course – be finding time to capture the collective wisdom of the brilliant women in WACL and celebrate with a party or two…

Meet our sponsors

The celebrations to mark WACL100 would not be possible without the support of our sponsors. From all of us at WACL, thank you for your incredible generosity.

Diageo

A proud sponsor committed to building an advertising and media environment where, from script to screen, everyone sees themselves represented.

Google

Progress toward gender equity is progress for all. We’re working to enable billions to reach their full potential so we’re proud to build on our long-standing support for WACL and sponsor the WACL100 celebrations in this way.

Tesco

We’re passionate about creating an inclusive workplace, supporting women to make working life easier, wherever they are in the business and whatever their goals. Our role as an employer and an advertiser is to celebrate diversity. We help female colleagues to network, develop, balance work and home life and we ensure that we champion all women in our advertising to counter stereotypes.

Whalar

Whalar is a global creator commerce company that unleashes the full potential of creators, brands, and the world’s leading social platforms to engage, inspire, and activate communities around the world to drive growth for everyone.

1924 portrait of WACL's first President Marion Jean Lyon marking WACL's 100 year history. Advertisers Weekly Archive at History of Advertising Trust

1923

WACL is founded. First President is Marion Jean Lyon, the advertising manager of Punch, Britain’s pre-eminent satirical magazine.

Ethel Wood, WACL's 3rd President, Samson Clark archive at History of Advertising Trust’ HAT21/336/1

1925

Ethel Wood, a Renaissance woman of “wide interests, boundless energy and a diverse network”, and with an OBE for her work on the 1917 Pensions Committee, becomes third President.

1925 Portrait of Jessie Reynolds, first female president of NABs, Samson Clark archive at History of Advertising Trust

1927

WACL founder member Jessie Reynolds, becomes the first woman advertising agency director in this country and the first woman President of NABS.

Sir William Crawford, KBG Founder of Crawford's Advertising. IPA Archive at History of Advertising Trust.

1931

“I never think of men and women in separate categories… whoever does the job best can have it.” William Crawford, London’s most influential adman, lays down a progressive marker.

1936 portrait of Margaret Havinden, WACL archive at History of Advertising Trust

1935

Margaret Havinden (nee Sangster), who was at the forefront of the boom in fashion advertising, becomes President.

1939 letter to all WACL members explaining how the club will be put on a 'war footing'

1939

At an Extraordinary General Meeting, WACL members vote to continue despite the outbreak of war – with a new focus on charitable work.

Amy Pearce, WACL President. WACL archive at History of Advertising Trust

1943

Audrey Deans and Amy Pearce (pictured), both WACL Presidents, lobby MPs on a range of social justice issues, including a campaign for equal pay

1950 Portrait of Mary Gowing Advertiser's Weekly archive at History of Advertising Trust

1948

Mary Gowing becomes President. She created services recruitment campaigns, then, after the war, ads for the nascent NHS.

Olive Hirst, Vice-Chair, Publicity Club of London, first woman Fellow of IPA, and from 1950, the first woman MD of leading advertising agency Sells, WACL President 1959. WACL archive at History of Advertising Trust

1959

Pioneering adwoman Olive Hirst (in 1950 the first woman Managing Director of a leading advertising agency, Sells) is elected WACL President.

Iris Franklin, WACL President, fellow of the IPA, the Institute of Directors and treasurer of NABs. WACL archive at History of Advertising Trust.

1961

Iris Franklin, President in 1961-62, was hugely influential. She was an IPA and Institute of Directors Fellow, a Freeman of the City of London and treasurer of NABS.

Portrait of Patricia Mann, WACL President, 1971-2. WACL archive at History of Advertising Trust

1971

WACL President Patricia Mann OBE, publishes a WACL sponsored book: “150 Careers in Advertising, with equal opportunities for men and women”

Letter to WACL from Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister, dated April 1983 congratulating the club on their DIamond Jubilee. WACL Archive at History of Advertising Trust

1987

The entire WACL membership attends a dinner at 10 Downing Street, hosted by the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.

Joan Barrell, WACL archive at History of Advertising Trust.

1988

WACL introduces Honorary Memberships – the first is legendary consumer magazine magician, Joan Barrell, ex IPC and Nat Mags.

Marilyn Baxter

1990

A ground-breaking study, “Women in Advertising,” produced by Saatchi & Saatchi’s Director of Planning and WACL member, Marilyn Baxter, is published

Carol Reay, WACL President 1995-6 and the first woman to have her name above the door of an ad agency

1995

Carol Reay, WACL President and the first woman to have her name above the door of an ad agency, Mellors Reay & Partners

Stevie Spring

1996

WACL’s first ever conference, held at the ICA, promoted under a “Making the Most of Your Career” strapline, it featured a glittering array of speakers including WACL’s Stevie Spring

Debbie Klein

2000

Debbie Klein (a WACL President later in the decade) produces “Women in Advertising: Ten Years on” a follow-up to Marilyn Baxter’s report.

Tess Alps

2004

Launch of WACL’s Future Leaders Award. Overseen by Tess Alps in her Presidential year (and now The Talent Awards), the scheme gives bursaries to promising women for training.

Rosie Arnold

2011

Multi-awarded creative and WACL member Rosie Arnold becomes D&AD’s first female President since its launch in 1962.

Francesca Ecsery

2013

WACL launches a NED and trustee scheme, run by Francesca Ecsery. Members come together to hear from experienced NEDs and search consultants.

Kerry Glazer, WACL President who redefined WACL's purpose to focus on accelerating gender equality

2017

In a landmark article for Campaign, President Kerry Glazer reveals that, following a membership vote WACL is to become a more overtly campaigning organisation.

timeTo launch 2018 AA President’s Reception

2018

A collaboration between WACL, the Advertising Association and NABS, backed by the IPA and ISBA, leads to timeTo, an initiative combatting sexual harassment in advertising and marketing.

Rania Robinson, WACL President 2022-3

2023

President Rania Robinson and WACL’s members, now almost 300 strong, will celebrate the club’s centenary with a campaign, events, endorsements from patrons, podcasts and more.

Explore more about WACL 100

WACL100 Patrons

Read messages of support from our Patrons

Talent

Find out how WACL supports female talent and emerging leaders

WACL100 History

Explore more of our incredible 100 year history

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