How local advertising leaders launched BBB in Dallas
Advertising leaders in Dallas played a central role in the launch of the advertising industry's drive for "Truth in Advertising" as well as the founding of the BBB in Dallas. In 1912, the Dallas Advertising League helped bring the national convention of the Associated Advertising Clubs of the World (now American Advertising Federation) to Dallas with the theme of "Truth in Advertising". Then in 1920, the Dallas Advertising League founded the Better Business Bureau of Dallas as an independent, non-profit organization working for truth in advertising in order to enhance public confidence in the marketplace.
The following is excerpted from "60 Years with BBB, 1920 - 1980" by G. Duffield Smith, Sr., CEO of BBB in Dallas 1946-1975.
In the Beginning ...
It may be said that the famed "Dallas Spirit" was born May 24, 1904, when the city approved the widely publicized E. M. Reardon Plan and organized the State Fair of Texas, succeeding to a series of privately operated fairs which began in 1862 during the days of the Confederacy. Prime movers in the organization of the new State Fair of Texas included Reardon, Charles A. Mangold, Sam P. Cochran, A. P. Tenison, Fred F. Sliney, C. A. Keating, James Moroney, W. H. Gaston, A. H. Belo, James C. Duke, Frank P. Holland, Alex Sanger, E. M. Kahn, and R. A. Ferris. The population of the city at that time was some 80,000. Thus began the continuous and successful exhibition and exposition of the merits, products and advantages of Texas in general and Dallas in particular.
If 1904 marks the date when the "Dallas Spirit" was born, then 1908 may be said to mark the time when it took flight, for that was the year when the Dallas Advertising League was organized. Created by such leaders as George W. Baker, its first president, and Fred E. Johnston, A. G. (Bert) Chaney and Richard Haughton, Sr., as a "booster" type organization, the Ad League served as catalyst in the development of a dynamism that exploded civic activity into many directions, into the reconstitution of a dynamic Chamber of Commerce in 1909, the organization of the Dallas Rotary Club in 1911 and many other civic organizations that followed.
Selling the New Technology
In 1911 a delegation of Ad League members led by Judge William Hawley Atwell journeyed to Boston in a special train to attend the national convention of the Associated Advertising Clubs of the World, today known as the American Advertising Federation, with the avowed purpose of bringing the 1912 convention to Dallas. The big subject on the convention's agenda however was the question relating to the creation of a selling force to create mass distribuion of the products beginning to roll off the assembly lines of American manufacturers resulting from the newly developed technology of mass production.
Advertising as such in those days was virtually unknown among traditional sellers of goods and services, being limited to little more than simple announcements of the arrival of new shipments and availability of their offerings at a price. Purveyors of "snake oil" and nostrums of all types were rampant and their abuses in hawking their wares to a gullible public represented a very real handicap in the development of advertiisng as a sales tool.
Truth in Advertising
Thus the principal objective of the AACW convention was the cleaning up of advertising and its development as a legitimate means of creating mass consumption of the mass-produced products of a new industrial society. So the Boston convention adopted the slogan "Truth in Advertising" as its goal and deferred the development of means to accomplish its objective to its convention the following year. And the invitation and stirring appeal of Judge Atwell and other members of the delegation from the Dallas Advertising League to hold the 1912 convention in Dallas was accepted.
In the year 1912 therefore Dallas hosted its first national convention. It should be noted that 68 years later, in 1980, Dallas hosted the national convention of the AACW's successor organization, the American Advertising Federation.
The 1912 convention, keyed to the slogan "Truth in Advertising", created great fervor in Dallas with this as the theme of the sermons preached in the principal pulpits of Dallas churches the Sunday of the convention. The convention adopted a program calling for the organization of non-profit self-regulatory agencies of business to promote truth in advertising and dependability in marketing practices to enhance public confidence in business advertisements and the enactment of truth in advertising laws in cities and states throughout the nation.
The movement was delayed by World War I but after its conclusion voluntary truth in advertising agencies began to spring up under the sponsorship of advertising and business leaders. First known by various names in different cities, by 1919 the name "Better Business Bureau" was uniformly adopted and in 1920 the Better Business Bureau of Dallas became one of the earliest to come into existence.
A non-profit corporate charter for the Better Business Bureau of Dallas was approved by the Texas Secretary of State September 7, 1920, the incorporating directors being J. Howard Payne, S. G. Howell and W. R. Patterson. The first directors meeting was held September 17, 1920, and the first meeting of members scheduled for September 29, 1920.
Hugo Swan, a young lawyer with the National Vigilance Commitee of the Associated Advertising Clubs of the World, later known as the National Better Business Bureau and today as the Council of Better Business Bureaus, was elected as Manager-Counsel and installed in office. By 1921, the BBB of Dallas was off and running.
For more on the BBB serving Dallas and Northeast Texas through the years, see http://dallas.bbb.org/article/90th-anniversary-of-bbb-in-dallas--from-truth-in-advertising-to-start-wit-22193