Bernice Fitz-Gibbon is recognized as one of the most successful retail ad makers in the whole history of advertising. She brought wit, intelligence, uncommon common sense and an unmistakable touch of class to the field of retail advertising. Her mastery of the English language set her advertisements apart from the rest.
In a career spanning over 40 years, she revolutionized the way stores dealt with the public and the way the public thought about stores. Her ads for Macy's, Wanamaker’s and Gimbels achieved worldwide fame. Her advertising slogans, "It's smart to be thrifty," and "Nobody, but nobody, undersells Gimbels," continue to be two of the most memorable ever written.
Fitz-Gibbon believed one of her greatest contributions to retail advertising was her creative use of "buildups." Usually reserved for information about a store, she used these small spaces at the top of a newspaper ad for tiny editorials aimed at improving the public image of Wanamaker's. Surveys showed that these editorials were one of the most widely read pieces in the newspaper.
Known as a tough but inspired teacher, she brought forth a brilliant crop of young advertising people who carry on her high standards today. A strong emphasis on language and observation was at the heart of her management philosophy. As a result, a "Fitz-trained" copywriter became a very hot commodity on the job market.
In 1954 Fitz-Gibbon started her own retail advertising agency and by the early 1950s, was reported to be the highest paid woman in advertising.
Bernice Fitz-Gibbon was voted Woman of the Year in Business by the Association of Press Editors in 1955 and Woman of the Year by the University of Wisconsin Alumni Association in 1957. That same year, she was named as one of the leading business women in the nation by Fortune Magazine. She was a member of the Retail Advertising Confederation's Hall of Fame as well as the first woman copywriter to be elected to the Copywriter's Hall of Fame.