Our Denver/Boulder Story

In the 1800s, there was no regulation of advertising. Much of it was governed only by the boundaries of the imagination. Many unscrupulous sellers perpetrated numerous scams on the unsuspecting public. Miracle lotions and drugs were sold by peddlers, and newspapers were full of ads with outrageous claims designed to bilk the buying public.

At the turn of the century, newspapers and magazines took the lead in promoting more responsible advertising. In 1904, the National Federation of Advertising Clubs of America (later called the Associated Advertising Clubs of America) was formed by volunteers who dedicated their intentions to “expose fraudulent schemes and their perpetrators.”

The first president of the Associated Advertising Club was Samuel C. Dobbs, who later became president of the Coca-Cola Company. He was a champion of ethical advertising and, in 1911, developed the “10 commandments of advertising.” During that year, advertising clubs sponsored local committees throughout the U.S. which were the precursors of the Better Business Bureau.

In 1912 a Boston advertising executive, George W. Coleman, formed a national committee which, in 1921, was named the National Better Business Bureau. The concept of the BBB expanded to other states and communities steadily throughout the next three decades.

After a brief, unsuccessful attempt to establish a BBB in Denver in the early 1930s, there was a committee formed by local business leaders in 1951 which successfully launched our BBB. The resulting agency has served what is now the 12-county metro area continuously to this day.