1930's - 1940's: the beginning
In 1938, Thomas Ashwell, publisher of the Export Trade & Shipper magazine in New York, had a vision. Long aware of the need for an organization to coordinate and foster the practice of international advertising, Ashwell assembled twelve other export advertising executives for a luncheon meeting on 8 April 1938 at the Harvard Club in New York. Out of that occasion, the International Advertising Association was born.
The first public gathering, which attracted over 130 men and women from the export advertising business, was held that May. The first President, Shirley Woodell, described the new association as ‘an organization for the interchange of ideas and experiences, in order to promote the efficiency and scope of its members in the practice of their profession of foreign advertising’. And she proposed its tripartite structure composed of advertisers, advertising agencies and the media and their representatives
When the elected Directors applied to register as a not-for-profit corporation, they discovered their chosen name, the International Advertising Association, was already assigned. So they incorporated themselves as the Export Advertising Association on 3 October 1938, and by the end of the year had 67 members
The organization held its first International Advertising Convention in October 1949 in New York City with the theme ‘Greater foreign trade through international advertising’. Now some 300 members strong, it moved confidently into the new decade
1950's: embedding our goals
The 1950’s can be characterized by several key milestones which truly embedded the IAA’s goals and mission:
1960's: a decade of ‘firsts’
The IAA achieved many ‘firsts’ in the 1960's:
Perhaps the most crucial trend affecting the IAA's work at that time was the emergence of consumerism as a major force in the mid-1960's, with advertising soon becoming one of its prime targets. In the past, the IAA's main role had been that of teacher, observer and reporter. Now consumerism was seen as a vital challenge to the industry and the bylaws were redefined to set the IAA on a new path for its journey to the forefront of the defense of advertising internationally.
At the end of the 1960's, IAA membership was up to over 2,100, with 15 Chapters.
1970's: growth of corporate and organizational membership
With the approval of the new bylaws in 1971, providing for a more active role for the IAA, the Association began its search for greater resources. Corporate support of major projects and services became an important and necessary reality. In 1972, the Sustaining (later termed ‘Corporate’) and Organizational Members program began and grew successfully thereafter.
1980's: launch of our education program
The IAA Education Program was formed, announced at the 1980 IAA World Congress in Durban. As introduced, it developed requirements leading to two levels of IAA Certificates and an IAA Diploma in International Advertising, aimed at providing a much needed educational standard for the marketing communications business on a worldwide scale.
In addition, an extensive publications program was initiated with studies covering different restrictions, problems and prospects in the worldwide marketing communications community. Regular summaries were circulated of such topical items as government legislation, developments in self-regulation, consumer trends, public service advertising activities and significant media changes. In pursuit of its objectives ‘to establish a common platform in building and sustaining the prestige of the advertising profession’ and ‘to serve as spokesman against unwarranted attack or restrictions on advertising’, the IAA formed a Public Action Committee, which met for the first time at the 1980 IAA World Congress in Durban, South Africa. This Committee assumed responsibility for monitoring the international advertising climate with regard to government regulation, legislation and consumerist actions. In this, the IAA worked closely with other organizations such as the European Economic Community, the European Advertising Tripartite (EAT) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).
The 1980's presented the IAA with new and greater challenges — included among them mergers and restructurings on both the agency and advertiser sides, new advertising restrictions and bans, threats of taxes on advertising, developments in satellite broadcasting and so on.
Chapter lobbying efforts, directly and in cooperation with a host of other national, regional and international organizations increased markedly on such issues as taxation and product advertising and gained the support of many more Organizational Members.
The Association closed out the 1980’s with a strong membership base of 2,700 Individual Members and 36 Chapters in 74 countries, with 82 Corporate and 28 Organizational Members.
1990's: a truly international reach
For the Association, this decade was marked by a number of significant advances. One of these was its continuing international growth and influence, mirrored in the geographical origins of its World Presidents; Roger Neill (1990-92), a former Chapter President both in Australia and the UK; Mustapha Assad (1992-94), the first from the Middle East; Luis Carlos Mendiola Codina (1994-96), the second from Latin America; and Senyon Kim (1996-98), the first from Asia/Pacific.