Jane Maas, a Pioneer for Women in Advertising, Dies at 86

Ms. Maas began her Madison Avenue career in 1964 at Ogilvy & Mather, where she rose from junior copywriter to become only the agency’s second woman to be promoted to vice president. Even so, she was usually confined to handling household brands — Dove soap, Drano, Johnson Wax, Maxwell House coffee — pitched mainly to women.

A 1976 book written by Ms. Maas and Kenneth Roman (with Martin Nisenholtz) became an industry classic.CreditKogan Page Ltd.

“In those days,” she wrote, “female copywriters were kept in a product ghetto, allowed to work only on accounts, like food or floor cleaners, considered appropriate to our sex. We weren’t allowed to write ads for banks, or liquor or, God forbid, cars.”

Interviewed by Advertising Age in 2014, Ms. Maas recalled creating one commercial in which an actress rhapsodizes about how much her husband enjoyed the coffee she had lovingly brewed for him. “I can’t believe I wrote that drivel,” she said.

She worked at Wells Rich Greene from 1976 to 1981, when she broke ground for women in advertising as the president of Muller Jordan Weiss, whose clients included Aamco Transmissions, Hearst Magazines and Stroehmann Bakeries. She became president of Earle Palmer Brown in 1987 and was later its chairwoman, until 1992.

Advertising Age, which named Ms. Maas one of the “100 Most Influential Women in Advertising,” once referred to her as “the real Peggy Olson, right out of ‘Mad Men,’ ” evoking the ambitious character played by Elisabeth Moss on the AMC television series.

But Ms. Maas, in contrast to those fictional mad men and women, was “relentlessly cheerful,” she wrote in an earlier memoir, “Adventures of an Advertising Woman” (1986).

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