Our History

Our story began 100 years ago in 1917. The country was at war with Germany. How could advertising contribute to the war effort?

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Recognising the valuable role advertising could play in the war effort, the Prime Minister of the day, David Lloyd George, requested a meeting with the best minds in advertising, As a result, these minds set up the first UK trade body for advertising, The Association of British Advertising Agents. Our first President was Mr. L. Johnson and the industry has never looked back.

A short history lesson

In Johnson's words; "It was evident that the business of advertising was not sharing in a corporate sense its national obligations and responsibilities. The association was founded not with a selfish and restrictive object, but upon the broad principles of a national emergency."

So the path to the creation of the IPA began. We were first known as The Association of British Advertising Agents (ABAA) in 1917. Then our name changed to The Institute of Incorporated Practitioners in Advertising (IIPA) in 1927 and finally The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) in 1954.

We have been the IPA ever since, representing corporate and personal members, with one important change. In 2016, in recognition of the quality of our training, we were awarded a Royal Charter and began trading as a company Incorporated by Royal Charter on January 1st 2017.

Today we are the worlds most influential professional body. We've been the founding member of eleven Joint Industry Committees (JICs) set up to track the performance of advertising. These include BARB (Broadcasters' Audience Research Board) and more recently, PAMCo (Publishers' Audience Measurement Company). We were also founder members of The Advertising Association (1924) and The Committee of Advertising Practice (1961). We continue to lead these initiatives today.

We have witnessed and commented thoughtfully on extensive societal, political and cultural changes. From guidance notes in the 1950's outlining the expected impact of computers on making commercials to being the first to ask agencies to identify the financial impact of their work through The IPA Effectiveness Awards in the 1980s.

We have always moved with the times, challenged the status quo, initiated uncomfortable conversations and taken the risk of backing things that are new. We have not hesitated to call out bad practice if diplomacy has failed. And we consistently push for higher standards through our surveys, whether it's rating the servicing levels of suppliers, or publicly awarding new research methodologies.

Some IPA milestones

In 2003

We were the first trade organisation to promote the benefits of a diverse workforce and we also showcased good and bad ethnic advertising.

In 2005

We introduced the unique 'week in the life of' survey, in which our panellists had to log their day and activity across all media. Today this is known as TouchPoints.

In 2013

We were the first UK trade body to support Advertising Week Europe. It's now an annual fixture in London's calendar.

In 2017

We celebrated our centenary year with a four-day Festival and Exhibition, Ad Fest 100, where we recognised the industry's game-changers. The people who challenged the status quo.

The IPA in 1957

This recently rediscovered video provides a fascinating insight into an IPA already 40 years old...

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Last updated 07 December 2023