This thesis concerns the development of the self-regulation of advertising in Sweden from 1950 until 1971. Self-regulation was initiated in the 1930s due to a business desire to regulate fair competition in marketing, and while it initially was a minor operation, the 1950s and 1960s were characterized by extensive development. When self-regulation was overtaken by state policies in 1971, it included several interlocking systems, of which parts survived the introduction of the state regime. The thesis’ aim has been to analyze how the rapid regime transitions in the self-regulation regime can be understood.
The existing literature identifies four major transitions that occurred during the studied time period. To understand them, the thesis has studied the policy processes leading up to these transitions. Focus has been on the business interest organizations that controlled the regime and their regulatory strategies. Theoretically, the analysis has departed from the hypothesis that tensions between these organizations, due to their members’ different market interests and varying levels of exposure to regulation and public badwill, to a significant degree informed their strategic choices as well as policy outcomes.
The results show that the policy processes preceding the regime transitions were characterized by internal tensions, whereby organizations representing advertisers, and to a lesser degree media carriers, due to their members’ higher level of exposure to regulation and public badwill, successfully supported stronger market policing, while ad agencies, being less exposed, as well as a peak industry organization for the proliferation of marketing largely opposed such measures, preferring a more lenient regulation. However, due to increased exposure to regulation and bad will, the ad agencies finally abandoned their opposition and took the lead in regulatory innovation through the introduction of an extensive clearance program that survived the launch of the state regime, becoming a key component in the co-regulatory structure that followed.