Jane Maas, Groundbreaking Legend in Advertising, Dies at 86

November 20, 2018
Jane Maas

Jane Maas, widely hailed as a "legend" and named by Advertising Age as one of the most influential ad women of the last hundred years, died peacefully on Friday, November 16th, 2018.

One of the original "Mad Women of Madison Avenue," she is best known for heading the "I Love New York" campaign, which revitalized tourism and rescued New York City from bankruptcy. "This great advertising has many fathers," she said. "But I am its only mother."

Jane Maas began her advertising career at Ogilvy & Mather in 1964, rising from junior copywriter to become a creative director and the second woman at that agency to be made a vice president. She worked on global brands, including Maxwell House coffee, Dove soap, Johnson Wax, and Drano. "In those days, 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," she recalled.

In 1976, the fast-growing new creative shop, Wells Rich Greene, hired Mrs. Maas as a senior vice president and creative director to work on the Proctor & Gamble business. Soon she was assigned to what began as a tiny account to advertise the ski areas of New York State, and blossomed into "I Love New York." The famous ILNY logo, designed by Milton Glaser, is seen on T-shirts and coffee mugs all over the world.

In 1981, Mrs. Maas became the first woman to head a major New York City advertising agency she didn't found as president of Muller Jordan Weiss, and in 1987, president and then chairman of Earle Palmer Brown Advertising and Public Relations.

Jane Maas was born in Jersey City, N.J. in 1932, the child of Charles and Margaret Brown. She attended Bucknell University, where her parents had met, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in her junior year and graduated summa cum laude. She won a Fulbright Scholarship and spent the years 1953–54 at the University of Dijon, France. The following year she received an M.A. in English Literature from Cornell. In 1957, she married architect Michael Maas. "They were the poster children for a fabulous marriage," one colleague stated. "Two extremely successful people, who always made each other a top priority." Michael Maas died in 2002. He was brother of author Peter Maas and former president of the Fifth Avenue Association, as well as a member of the American Institute of Architects National Board of Directors and former managing partner of HLW International.

Mrs. Maas has written three well-known advertising books. She was co-author, with former Chairman/CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide Ken Roman, of the classic How to Advertise, which has been translated into 17 languages. David Ogilvy called it "worth its weight in gold." Mad Women, published in 2012, is the no-holds-barred story of what it was like to be a woman in advertising in the 1960s and 1970s, the sexy and sexist era of the television series Mad Men. Advertising Age called her "the real Peggy Olson, right out of Mad Men." She also wrote a light-hearted memoir, Adventures of an Advertising Woman. Mrs. Maas is the author of two Christmas books: Christmas in Wales: A Homecoming (written with her husband) and The Christmas Angel, which was made into a Hallmark Channel movie.

Jane Maas was involved in education and the arts throughout her life. She was a member of the Board of Trustees of Bucknell and Fordham Universities, and the Advisory Council of the William E. Simon Graduate School of Business at the University of Rochester. She served as Public Director of the American Institute of Architects, and a member of the Board of the American Architectural Foundation. She was awarded honorary degrees by St. John's University and Ramapo College.

Mrs. Maas also made time for her own profession, and served on the Board of Directors of both the American Association of Advertising Agencies and Advertising Women of New York. Advertising, in turn, has awarded her some of its highest honors: she was named an Advertising Woman of the Year; won the Matrix Award from Women in Communications, and received every major creative award.

In addition to her professional accomplishments, Mrs. Maas was kind, caring, and generous of spirit to everyone who was fortunate to have met her. She is survived by two daughters, Katherine Maas and Jennifer Maas Jones, a sister, Susan Weston, and a granddaughter, Jenna Maas. A memorial service is New York City will be announced.

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