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NEW SSE DISSERTATION

Elin Åström Rudberg - Sound and loyal business: The history of the Swedish advertising cartel 1915–1965

This dissertation examines the cooperation between advertising agencies and newspapers to control and regulate the market for advertisements in Sweden 1915–1965. The advertising industry was thus organized in a cartel. Advertising is normally not associated with restrictive trade practices and a cartelized advertising industry comes across as peculiar. However, despite being continuously criticized, the Swedish agencies and newspapers managed to sustain control over the market.

The dissertation studies the development of the cartel, the cooperation between the agencies and the newspapers and their struggle to legitimize the organization of the market. Particularly, it tracks the role of ideas concerning competition and business practice in the cartel and how they were used by the actors. All actors in the market agreed that competition should be loyal, free, fair and sound, but the meaning of those ideas was always ambiguous.

The study shows that the advertising agencies and newspapers were successful in using these widely accepted ideas to motivate their restrictive trade practices. Until the 1950s, the expressed ideas and principles of the agencies and newspapers were in line with their actions and the societal view on competition. However, an increasing disconnectedness between principles, actions and societal acceptance was a major reason to the fall of the cartel. It is also shown that the cartel reinforced the importance of newspaper advertising, which helps explain its dominant position in Sweden until the 1980s.

Elin Åström Rudberg - Sound and loyal business: The history of the Swedish advertising cartel 1915–1965

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