The purpose of this paper is to examine the debate about brand marketing that occurred as part of the 1930s consumer movement and continued after the Second World War in academic and regulatory circles.
This paper presents an historical account of the anti-brand marketing movement using a qualitative approach. It examines both primary and secondary historical sources as well as legal statutes, regulatory agency actions, judicial cases and newspaper and trade journal stories.
In response to the rise of brand marketing in the latter 1800s and early 1900s, the USA experienced an anti-brand marketing movement that lasted half a century. The first stage was public as part of the consumer movement but was overshadowed by the product safety and truth-in-advertising concerns. The consumer movement stalled when the USA entered the Second World War, but brand marketing continued to raise questions during the war as the US government attempted to regulate the provisions of goods during the war. After the war, the public accepted brand marketing. Continuing anti-brand marketing criticism was largely confined to academic writings and regulatory activities. Ultimately, many of the stage-two challenges to brand marketing went nowhere, but a few led to regulations that continue today.
This paper is the first to recognize a two-stage anti-brand marketing movement in the USA from 1929 to 1980 that has left a small but significant modern-day regulatory legacy.
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