How Rich the Heritage
What’s done is history. What’s ahead is challenge. In pausing to celebrate its 100th anniversary by tracing the course of what has happened to date, the Dallas Advertising League can point with pride to the many significant accomplishments of the past in the lives and works of the members who created the League and made it grow.
By reviewing the past, the Dallas Advertising League can find inspiration and guidance for ever-increasing achievement in the future. This is not a full chronicle of that century of progress, only a brief look at some of the ways the Dallas Ad League has helped shape the enormous economic prosperity experienced in Dallas, and the impact made throughout the American Advertising Federation and District 10.
Nine of the DAL’s eleven charter members gathered on June 17, 1908, planning to work for safer and saner advertising in Dallas. Includes George Baker, first president, along with Gus Thomasson; Fred Johnson of Johnson Printing Co.; Albert Chaney, Titche-Goettinger Ad Manager; Richard Haughton, Founder of Haughton Brothers Printers; James Kirkland, Ad Manager Sanger Brothers; and Doc Wynn, Owner of Dallas’ first advertising agency.
In the Beginning
Shortly after the turn of the century, eleven Dallas businessmen gathered with ideas to promote Dallas and to work for better values in advertising. They called themselves the Dallas Advertising League. The group stated that one of its main purposes was “to suppress fake and scheme advertising,” because fraudulent advertising was running rampant in Dallas at the time. They intended to improve the quality of advertising in Dallas and inspire confidence of the public in advertising’s truthfulness.
As the voice of advertising, the DAL, which was created in 1908, became the principal force in the advertising industry, working toward the development and enforcement of a code of ethics that promoted good taste and truth in advertising. Now, a century later, the DAL is still committed to the principles envisioned by its early pioneers.
Fred Johnson, the dynamic and energetic second DAL president, used his extensive printing operations, which also included an advertising agency, to help form advertising clubs in other cities. He also arranged for the DAL’s membership in AACOA (Associated Advertising Clubs of America) which is now the AAF (American Advertising Federation).
Dallas’ First National Convention
In 1911, Dallas pioneer Gus W. Thomasson led a Dallas delegation numbering 87, plus 50 from other ad clubs in the state, to the annual AACOA national convention in Boston. They traveled in a special nine-car train with a display entitled Texas Under Six Flags designed to dispel the notion that Texas was only a land of cowboys, Indians and badmen. Their mission was to land the next AACOA convention for Dallas. They did.
In 1912, Dallas had its first national convention with the League playing host to 3,000 delegates from every part of the United States and five foreign countries. Convention headquarters were set up at Commerce and Akard in the magnificent Oriental Hotel built in 1893, which was said at the time to be the finest hotel in the South.
The Dallas Ad League is the city’s oldest continuously operating service organization and has been meeting regularly for the past 100 years. The League has set the pace of progress in civic activity while expanding the advertising influence of Dallas throughout the region and the nation. Although the DAL was the first, many organizations that followed, such as the Rotary Club, the United Fund, the Better Business Bureau and the Salesmanship Club, all had their roots in Dallas Advertising League membership.
A Better Way for Business
The Better Business Bureau movement in the U.S. had its roots in Dallas during the first national AACOA convention in 1912 hosted by the DAL. The League’s plan to broaden the work of its Vigilance Committee led to the approval of a non-profit corporate charter for the Better Business Bureau of Dallas by Texas’ Secretary of State in 1920. Truth in Advertising has remained a primary goal of the Dallas BBB, but over the years it broadened its services to include company reliability reports, complaint mediation and arbitration and consumer education. And all along, the BBB has maintained a close working relationship with its founder – the Dallas Advertising League.
Truth in Advertising
Protecting the credibility of advertising had been a major topic of discussion at AACOA club meetings throughout the U.S. for several years. But it was not until AACOA’s Dallas convention in 1912 that talk turned into action and a national crusade for Truth in Advertising was set in motion. AACOA delegates at the Dallas convention enthusiastically adopted a new program for sustaining advertising integrity. Its objective was the promotion through self-regulation of truth in advertising and dependability in marketing practices, so as to bolster the shaky public confidence in business. The DAL’s response to the Truth in Advertising doctrine was the creation of its Vigilance Committee with a goal of “cleaning up advertising.”
The Advertising Code of American Business
The nine-point document that constitutes a basic statement of advertising policy for all U.S. businesses originated in Dallas through the efforts of the DAL. The eyes of the advertising world were focused on Dallas in 1966 when many of its most distinguished leaders came to the city for the kickoff of the new self-regulation code that would soon be adopted and endorsed by business and trade groups throughout the nation. The event, sponsored jointly by the DAL and the BBB was held in the grand ballroom of the Adolphus Hotel and was supported by 30 top business and civic leaders representing a broad cross-section of Dallas area industry and commerce.
To help other advertising clubs and local BBB’s with their own code implementation programs, kits containing an outline of what had become known around the country as the Dallas Plan and samples of materials were prepared and made available by the League to other organizations. The DAL had a big hand in initiating the Advertising Code of American Business, which stands today as the basic statement of advertising principles.
The Legacy of Alfonso Johnson
Alfonso Johnson joined the Dallas Advertising League soon after it was founded in 1908. He served as DAL president from 1925 to 1927 and worked tirelessly to create a better understanding of advertising through study and educational work. In 1931, the DAL created the Most Valuable Member Award. It was given annually to the member who contributed most to attaining the goals of the League. Johnson received the distinguished award in 1933.
In 1948, the League broadened its educational activities to include an annual college student tour. Outstanding advertising majors from universities in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas came to Dallas for an on-the-scene look at advertising in action. For 25 years, Johnson had been one of the League’s most dedicated workers in the area of advertising education. To honor him following his death in 1950, the tour was renamed the Alfonso Johnson Student Tour. That tour continued to 2000.
In 2003 the DAL began a program to reach down to the high school level to let students know about the variety of challenging jobs available in our industry. The inspiration for this effort was Alice Kendrick, not only a professor at Southern Methodist University but active with both the DAL and AAF nationally. After checking with AAF nationally, it was discovered that no ongoing program to reach the high school market was available.
The DAL “High School Initiative” was chaired by George Ross who worked with high school superintendents in the Dallas area, and got immense help in this effort for Kara Adams, a high school instructor teaching advertising at Plano West High School. At the 2004 AAF National Conference held in Dallas, Kendrick, Ross, Adams and Frank Kopec, DAL chair of Education, made that program available to all AAF local clubs.
The Advertising Institute of Dallas
The League’s concern from the beginning for the advancement of advertising education led to its establishment in 1929 of the Advertising Institute of Dallas. The school had a Board of Governors with Joe Dawson of TLD (Tracy-Locke-Dawson) as chairman. The school’s dean was Alfonso Johnson. A 23 member faculty recruited from all areas of communications taught the nearly 40 courses offered by the school. Certificates were awarded to those who satisfactorily completed the work of the Institute, which the League sponsored for several years.
The Dallas Advertising League and the AAF Tenth District
While there have been some rough spots over the years, with the DAL electing to part with the Advertising Federation of America from 1931 to 1933 and with the American Advertising Federation from 1980 to 1984, the League’s relationships with the regional and national organizations have been strong for over 90 of the 100 years of its existence.
The Dallas Advertising League has been honored to have six governors elected by the 10th District, Les Harris for 1942-1943, Ira E. DeJernett for 1947-48, Tom McMcHale for 1962-63 Bart Rominger for 1971-72, Jim Goodnight for 1992-93, and Rebel Webster for 1996-97. Two DAL members have been District 10 Executive Secretary, Alfonso Johnson from 1945-1950 and Tom McHale from 1950-62. The 10th District also has selected five DAL members to receive its Sterling Service Award, Ira DeJernett – 1968, Tom McHale – 1970, John McCarty – 1976, Jim Goodnight – 1999, and Marc Eisenberg – 2007. Dallas recipients of the District Outstanding Educator Award are Alice Kendrick in 2001, Peter Noble in 2003, and Jim Goodnight in 2005. The District Most Valuable Member for 2007 was DAL past President Richard Jones.
The DAL Board has made significant, multithousand dollar contributions to National Student Advertising Competition teams, has two Lifetime AES memberships, and is committed to increasing the participation of its members in this wonderful education experience for students.
Additionally, the Dallas Advertising League has played host to numerous District conventions and leadership conferences. In fact, Dallas and Fort Worth were host cities to Summer and Winter leadership conferences for twelve years in a row (1965-1976).
The Dallas Advertising League is proud of its affiliation with the AAF’s best district, the Tenth District.
The Texas Centennial
In the mid-thirties, Dallas became one of the first cities in the nation to pull out of the Depression, and the Ad League began the task of promoting the Texas Centennial celebration. League-written ads that ran throughout the country proclaimed Dallas as the Little New York of the Southwest.
On June 6, 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt opened the Dallas celebration of the Centennial, and by the time the gates closed in November, six million people had been drawn to Fair Park. The next year, the League helped promote the Pan-American Exposition and Pan- American Olympic Games at Fair Park, which drew an additional four million people.
Mythical Kudos College
In keeping with the Ad League’s way of doing things, often half-serious, half-tongue-in-cheek, a mythical institution was created in 1949 when the Kudos College was inaugurated to honor those who put Dallas in the national spotlight. In return for creating favorable publicity for Dallas, these men and women were made presidents of the imaginary university, given official diplomas and awarded life membership in the Ad League. SMU’s Doak Walker, Stanley Marcus, and Margo Jones were installed as Kudos College’s first presidents.
Although Kudos College ceremonies are serious, the presentations are fun. The symbolism is that of an actual university graduation ceremony. There is the pomp of conferring upon the honoree an appropriate degree, an appointment to a compatible department or school and finally, installation as president of the imaginary college. The select group of Kudos College presidents includes former Texas Governors John Connally and Bill Clements, Jr.; former Dallas Mayors J. Erik Jonsson, Wes Wise and Jack Evans; famed comedian Bob Hope; entertainers Charlie Pride and Trini Lopez; the Dallas Cowboys’ celebrated coach Tom Landry and quarterback Roger Staubach; golfer Byron Nelson; merchandising innovators Mary Kay Ash and Stanley Marcus; and a host of other notable Dallasites who have brought acclaim to the city of Dallas.
Texas Tourist Development Agency
In the 1940s the Ad League was part of another educational project of a different kind – that of convincing
voters that amending the state constitution to permit the use of public funds for tourism advertising would be good for Texas. Success did not come quickly or easily, but persistence ultimately paid off with the creation in 1963 of the TTDA (Texas Tourist Development Agency). The League’s Clifton Blackmon chaired the District’s state advertising committee, and later the District’s legislative committee during that effort. This would eventually lead to a state advertising budget and Texas Tourism’s most famous campaign, “Texas. It’s like a whole other country,” created in the early 90’s by GSD&M in Austin.
A Commitment to Community Service
In 1950, the League established a Community Service Committee as a continuing activity. The purpose was two-fold: to promote worthy Dallas charitable and civic projects; and to win greater recognition among business top executives for advertising as an organized activity in Dallas by substituting group participation for scattered individual effort in the field of community service.
Chief among its projects for many years had been the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. Also, in 1965, a model campaign was planned and produced to curb school dropouts. The program, designed by the League in conjunction with the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, was duplicated by other organizations throughout the country.
In 1992 Dallas was being torn asunder by internal turmoil that included City Council in-fighting, racial tensions, a rapidly declining downtown, and a weakened economic climate. Mayor Steve Bartlett asked for the League’s help to revive Dallas’ spirit, so the League responded with Marketing Dallas, a Mayoral Task Force. DAL president Jim Cole spearheaded a collaborative campaign designed to promote the City to its citizens. Spencer Michlin creatively directed a campaign entitled, “Love Where You Live,” a high-spirited, multi-media campaign designed to uplift Dallas citizen’s spirits by reminding people of what makes Dallas great.
The campaign was then extended outward through the Chamber of Commerce, Dallas Convention and Tourism Bureau and other channels to persuade business people that Dallas was the place to “hang their hat.” Two years later, Marketing Dallas, chaired by Dennis D’Amico, undertook the task of coordinating multiple promotional efforts to “Welcome the World” as one of the sites of the 1994 World Cup.
The Dallas Advertising League Foundation
The DALF (Dallas Advertising League Foundation) is the philanthropic arm of the DAL, and was established in 2000 to administer all of the grants and scholarships of the Dallas Advertising League, including the annual Sam R. Bloom Memorial Scholarship Fund. As it states in its official Mission Statement: “The Dallas Advertising League Foundation serves to elevate and further the advertising industry by providing programs that develop and support practicing professionals as well as encouraging and enabling the education of future professionals.”
The foundation, based on prudent endowment guidelines, will make grants or underwriting funds available for professional and broadly defined community education and development events sponsored by the DAL or the Foundation. One such underwriting grant is the American Advertising Association’s (AAF) advertising education and student competition programs and the AAF Southwest Tenth District Advertising Education Sponsorships in amounts approved by a majority of the DAL Board. The largest giving since its creation has gone to the DREAM Fund, with donations tied to the DAL’s biggest event in the past eight years, AdRoast.
It was no coincidence that the DAL Foundation and AdRoast were born in the same year. AdRoast was created as an industry event to raise funds for the Foundation and the Foundation’s biggest beneficiary, the DREAM Fund. The DREAM Fund is a multi-state charitable organization that aids colleagues in the advertising, media and public relations fields who are faced with unexpected medical emergencies or life crises and find themselves in need of support and financial assistance.
The annual AdRoast charity event had its beginning in the year 2000 with the first roast of agency guru Stan Richards. Since then, there have been eight AdRoasts, representing a list of prominent Roasters and Honorees, eager to donate their time for a worthwhile cause and a night of infamy and disrespect. These events have raised over $300,000 for the DREAM Fund and the Dallas Ad League Foundation.
Here is a list of the honorees and a sampling of their celebrity roasters:
2000 Stan Richards – Martin Mull, Liener Temerlin
2001 Liener Temerlin – Marvin Hamlisch, Ross Perot, Stanley Marcus
2002 Roy Spence – Ann Richards, Herb Kelleher, Judy Trabulsi
2003 Mike Levy – Lyle Lovett, Roy Spence, Morton H. Meyerson
2004 Ron Chapman – Brad Sham, Senator Florence Shapiro, Mel Karmazin
2005 Keith Reinhard – Bob Garfield, Dawn Hudson, Allen Rosenshine
2006 Larry Spiegel – Sarah Moulton, Jody Dean, Stan Richards
2007 Barb & Stan Levenson – Charles O. Glenn, Richard Metzler, Ron Chapman
Host City to AAF National Conferences
The Dallas Ad League followed up its hosting of National Advertising Conferences in 1912, with 1958 (as part of the celebration of the League’s 50 years), and 1981, but its biggest and best yet was 2004. On June 12, over 1,000 advertising professionals representing all industry segments – advertisers, agencies, media companies and service providers/suppliers – convened at this premier industry event hosted at the Fairmont Hotel in Dallas. The AAF’s 2004 National Conference featured high-profile speakers, sought after networking sessions, an Ad Expo, the first Conference Golf Tournament, an evening of Beers, Bulls, and BBQ (sponsored the Dallas Morning News), and star-studded events such as the Worldwide ADDY Awards Show and the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC). This four-day conference, locally chaired by Frank Kopec and Steve Wellman, generated a lot of industry buzz for Dallas advertising, and brought the Dallas advertising leadership together in a way not seen in many years.
Individual National Honors
Joe Dawson was President of the Advertising Federation of America in 1943-44 and was elected Chairman of the Board in 1945. Also, John R. McCarty was Chairman of the AAF in 1973-74.
Nominees to the AAF Advertising Hall of Fame are judged by their creative accomplishments, marketing excellence, innovations to advertising, education and leadership, and their contributions to enhance the reputation of the advertising industry through volunteer efforts outside of their companies The DAL has had four members elected to the Advertising Hall of Fame. In 1990, Sam R. Bloom was the first Dallas Ad League member to be inducted. TracyLocke’s Morris Hite became, in 1996, the second candidate from Dallas to join the well-known icons of the Advertising Hall of Fame. Before passing, the legendary “Mr. Stanley,” Stanley Marcus, was inducted in 2000 into the elite group, followed by the induction of the renowned Liener Temerlin in 2003. Dallas is most proud to have four of the city’s most prominent leaders and Dallas Advertising League’s representatives enshrined in the advertising profession’s highest level of achievement.
In 2003, DAL past president and past 10th District governor Jim Goodnight received the AAF’s highest volunteer award, the Barton A. Cummings Gold Medal, in recognition of his industry service and dedication to charitable and educational causes.
The business of advertising is in a state of unprecedented growth and transition. Digital technologies, interactive media and entrepreneurial innovations have created an exploding world of advertising unlike what has transpired in the past. The Dallas Advertising League has worked diligently to keep up with changes that occurred over the past 100 years and is dedicated to keeping the door open to whatever the next 100 years bring.
Sources: “How Rich the Heritage, 75 Years of the Dallas Ad League 1908-1983” by Clifton Blackmon, Thomas J. McHale, J. Parker Jr., G. Duffield Smith Sr. (Chairman), and “A History of the Tenth District of the American Advertising Federation- And a history of the Dallas Ad League” by Clifton Blackmon and Harry Ottmann. Photo courtesy of the Dallas Public Library.