Distinguished copywriter, successful agency executive, recognized leader in organized advertising, Erma Perham Proetz was the first woman elected to the Advertising Hall of Fame. It is a fitting climax to the many honors she won for herself and her sex while living.
From 1923 to the time of her death in 1944, she was associated with the Gardner Advertising Company of St. Louis as a successful copywriter, account executive, director, creative vice president and executive vice president.
In 1924 and again in 1925, she won the $1,000 Harvard Advertising Award for distinguished individual advertisements, based on "the most effective use of illustration in advertising." In 1927 she received the $2,000 Edward W. Bok prize by the Harvard Award Jury for the best planned and executed national advertising campaign for a single product. Proetz was the only person ever to win all three awards.
In 1931 she was named one of the 10 most prominent St. Louisans in a poll in that city. In 1935 Fortune Magazine named her as one of the 16 outstanding women in American business.
In 1936 Proetz became president of the Women’s Advertising Club of St. Louis. That same year she was elected regional director of the St. Louis Branch of the Fashion Group, also serving as chairman of the Council of Women’s Clubs of the Advertising Federation of America.
Upon her death in 1944, the St. Louis Fashion Group announced the establishment of an Erma Proetz Memorial Scholarship at Washington University School of Fine Arts "in recognition of her great interest in students and the wide help and encouragement she gave many young girls starting out on their careers."
In 1945 the Women’s Advertising Club of St. Louis established an annual Erma Proetz Award for the most outstanding creative work done by women in advertising. This award was dedicated to the memory of Erma Perham Proetz, "who stood for the highest standards of advertising and whose faith in the ability of women in advertising was well known throughout the country."