The IAA has more than 4,500 individual and associate members worldwide, 90% outside the U.S. The organization also has 80 corporate members and more than 60 organizational members, including the American Advertising Federation, American Association of Advertising Agencies, Ad Council and American Academy of Advertising, along with scores of professional associations in international markets, 61 chapters in 59 countries, 21 associate chapters and 47 accredited institutes (universities, colleges and professional schools). Its elected world president in 2001 was Jean-Claude Boulos, CEO of Inter Regies/M&C Saatchi, Beirut; Director General Wally O'Brien and Executive Director Richard Corner headed the professional staff at the IAA's World Secretariat, based in New York.
The association was founded by Henry Ashwell, publisher of Export Trade & Shipper magazine, and 12 others involved in export advertising. By the end of 1938, membership had grown to 67. World War II slowed the organization's growth, but by 1949, membership had reached 300, and that year the association held its first World Congress in New York.
Overseas membership rapidly expanded, and in 1955 the group held its World Congress in Zurich, the first held outside the U.S. In 1956, as a means of promoting self-regulation in the industry, the IAA published "The International Advertising Code of Ethics & Standards of Practice." By the close of the decade, the IAA's constitution and bylaws provided for the establishment of local chapters and global board representation.
An associates group for young professionals was organized in 1964, and other associates groups followed. By 1969, membership totaled 2,100—the majority residing outside the U.S.—in 15 chapters. Association growth slowed during the 1970s. Nevertheless, a report titled "The Global Challenge of Advertising," presented at the 1973 Dublin World Congress, further expanded the association's leadership role to include professional development and advocacy. In 1974, the organization initiated corporate memberships to broaden its base and attract needed financial support.
Throughout the 1980s, IAA membership continued to expand worldwide. The IAA established its Accredited Institute Program to prepare young people for careers in advertising and subsequently started an international internship program and expanded its advocacy programs to address what it considered unwarranted legislation and restraints.
Prompted by the economic transformations occurring with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the IAA's European growth accelerated dramatically in the early 1990s. Chapters were formed in Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and the newly independent countries of the former Yugoslavia, as well as in several former Soviet republics. Membership continued to grow in Latin America and in the rapidly developing Asian markets until 1997, when the latter region was beset by an economic downturn.
The current professional development goal of the IAA is to integrate all programs and activities to encourage lifelong relationships among talented individuals, the marketing communications profession and the IAA. Efforts to strengthen the performance of the advertising industry within international markets are an integral part of the organization's professional development programs and initiatives.
The IAA's accredited institutes have conferred the IAA diploma in marketing communications on more than 14,000 graduates. Its global internship program, launched in 1995, enables qualified students from its accredited institutes and other schools where advertising is taught to obtain hands-on professional experience. The program is being extended to marketing communications faculty to foster mutually advantageous relationships between employers and faculty participants. In 1996, the IAA introduced the InterAd international student advertising competition.
The IAA's biennial world congresses provide a global forum for the presentation and discussion of issues important to the profession. The association also works with its chapters to sponsor local and regional conferences and events addressing its mission-related issues in contemporary marketing communication. In addition, it sponsors education conferences designed to elevate the level of marketing communications education within international markets. Its Web address is www.iaaglobal.org.