Advertising Council | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Advertising Council
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Historical Note:

The Advertising Council was formed in 1941 to use advertising to promote the public good. The advent of World War II accelerated the Council's growth, due to the increased need for public service messages to benefit the war effort. Beginning in 1942, the Council, then known as the "War Advertising Council," worked in conjunction with the Office of War Information.1 Its aim was to create campaigns and disseminate information inducing people to take "actions necessary to the speedy winning of the war."2 Volunteerism was the main impetus for creating these campaigns. The Council appointed a volunteer campaign manager and a staff manager to oversee operations. These coordinators selected a task force from a list of volunteer agencies to work in concert with OWI and the government bureaus needing assistance. The completed campaigns went to advertisers, via sponsorship committees, who donated space and airtime for public service messages.3 Campaigns during the 1942-45 period focused on working women, conservation projects, war bond sales, the Red Cross, forest fire prevention, victory in Japan, and anticipated peacetime problems.4

In the 1945-46 period, the Council shifted to post-war projects, believing that its work would be just as essential during the rebuilding process as it was during the war. Its name changed from the "War Advertising Council" to "The Advertising Council." The name change was followed by the Council's consideration of requests from private organizations not connected with the government. In 1945, the Public Advisory Committee was formed.5 Comprised of private citizens from sectors having an interest in public issues, the committee reviewed requests for Council assistance. Acceptable requests had to be in the public interest, potentially successful via using advertising methods, timely, non-commercial, non-partisan, non-sectarian, and not designed to influence legislation.6 Requests required a three-fourths vote of the committee for approval.7 In 1947, the "Public Advisory Committee" became the "Public Policy Committee," though its function remained the same. During that year, the Industries Advisory Committee was formed. Composed of business leaders, the committee advised the Council about projects under consideration that involved business, suggested new projects, advised the board of directors of Council operations, assisted with Council fund-raising, and developed greater public understanding of democratic government and the American Free Enterprise system.8 In 1948, the Council's messages started to be aired on television. Since then, with growing support from the business community, the Council's messages have focused on helping to solve national problems. Recent campaigns have centered on drunk driving, drug abuse, racism and child abuse.

1. The Second Year of the War Advertising Council, March 1, 1943 to March 1, 1944, page 2.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid., page 4.

4. Ibid., pp. 5-7; Third Year...March 1, 1944 to March 1, 1945, pages 4-7.

5. The Fourth Year of the Advertising Council, March 1945 to March 1946, page 7.

6. Annual Report 1966-67, pages 3-4.

7. The Fourth Year, page 7.

8. The Sixth Year of the Advertising Council, March 1947 to March 1948, page 9.

Note Author: University Archives Staff

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