Estelle Ellis, Marketing to Teens and Working Women, about 1950











Promotion manager and marketer, Estelle Ellis made teenage girls and working women visible as markets in the postwar period. Working for Seventeen and, later, Charm magazines, she turned raw survey and census data into powerful, visual arguments for why advertisers, retailers and manufacturers should tailor their messages, merchandise, and services to teenagers and the “19 million women” who held jobs outside the home.

Teena, a fictional teenager with a bankbook in her mouth and arms full of consumer goods, made the case that young women between the ages of 14 and 17 had spending power. Charm Magazine reader surveys resulted in “picture-fact” reports that coupled compelling images of average women with statistical data to put a face on working women for advertisers and retailers. Despite the pioneering nature of Ellis’s work, women in these surveys were almost exclusively white and middle-class. African American publishers and advertisers would challenge this narrow imagining of the consumer market in the 1950s and 1960s.


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