The Advertising Council Records span the years from 1935 to 1999, and primarily consist of public service advertising campaigns developed by the Advertising Council. The campaigns are documented through council booklets, brochures, published articles, and sample advertisements which were distributed to Ad Council members and participating advertising agencies. Particular ad campaigns that are well represented include U.S. Savings Bonds and United Service Organizations (USO) during World War II; Religion in American Life; the Red Cross; the creation of Smokey the Bear and related fire prevention campaigns circa 1941 to 1951; and a campaign to explain the American Economic System, circa 1950 to 1957 (Cold War anti-communism). Various campaigns throughout the 1960s and 1970s are also represented to a lesser extent, including the War on Poverty, Equal Opportunity, and Child Abuse.
The collection is organized into two main series: General Files and Campaigns. The General Files Series contains Ad Council materials that are not specific to particular campaigns, such as annual reports, correspondence, and Ad Council promotional materials. The Campaigns Series, which comprises about two-thirds of the collection, contains pamphlets, brochures, posters, newspaper articles, and memos concerning the strategies of over 100 public service advertising campaigns. Large-format materials from both of these series have been relocated to the Oversize Materials.
Related collections in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library include the J. Walter Thompson Co. Archives: Domestic Advertisements Collection, the War Effort Mobilization Campaigns Poster Collection, the Edgar Hatcher Papers, the Warwick Baker O'Neill Records, and the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) Archives. The "official" archives of the Ad Council resides at the University of Illinois--Urbana/Champaign.