Consumer Protection in Historical Perspective: The Five-Year Battle Over Federal Regulation of Advertising, 1933 to 1938

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Abstract

The 5-year period between 1933 and 1938 represents a critical juncture in the history of advertising. It was during this period, and only during this period, that Congress formally considered exactly what should be the role of advertising in our society and how it should be regulated. In this article, I chronicle some of the main issues and developments behind the struggle over the crafting and passing of legislation for the regulation of advertising that took place in the 1930s. I discuss how the Tugwell bill (S. 1944, 1934), a radical measure drafted with consumer protection in mind, evolved into the Wheeler-Lea Act of 1938, a law that rendered such protection virtually painless from advertisers' perspective. Noting that the Wheeler-Lea Act, after more than 6 decades, is still the major law on advertising regulation, the article points to some of its modern implications and evaluates its current value.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-372
JournalMass Communication and Society
Volume3
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2000

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