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Advertising on Trial: Consumer Activism and Corporate Public Relations in the 1930s
by Inger L. Stole
University of Illinois Press, 2006
Paper: 978-0-252-07299-4 | Cloth: 978-0-252-03059-8 | eISBN: 978-0-252-09258-9
Library of Congress Classification HF5813.U6S77 2006
Dewey Decimal Classification 659.1097309043

In the 1930s, the United States almost regulated advertising to a degree that seems unthinkable today. Activists viewed modern advertising as propaganda that undermined the ability of consumers to live in a healthy civic environment. Organized consumer movements fought the emerging ad business and its practices with fierce political opposition.

Inger L. Stole examines how consumer activists sought to limit corporate influence by rallying popular support to moderate and change advertising. Stole weaves the story through the extensive use of primary sources, including archival research done with consumer and trade group records, as well as trade journals and engagement with the existing literature. Her account of the struggle also demonstrates how public relations developed in order to justify laissez-faire corporate advertising in light of a growing consumer rights movement, and how the failure to rein in advertising was significant not just for civic life in the 1930s but for our era as well.

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