Howard Bell served as a leading spokesman for the advertising industry for 24 years as president and CEO of the American Advertising Federation (AAF). He built the AAF from two regional associations of limited staff, budget and industry support into a single major national advertising association comprising all key elements of the industry. Overall membership during his tenure more than tripled. Upon his retirement in January 1992, he was named president emeritus on the AAF board of directors.
Bell began his career as sales promotion manager for WMAL AM-FM/TV in Washington, D.C., and in 1951 he moved to the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). There, Bell helped draft the Television Code and formulated the blueprint for the Television Bureau of Advertising. In 1963 Bell was appointed director of the NAB Code Authority and was responsible for the administration, interpretation and enforcement of the radio and television codes.
Early in his career at the American Advertising Federation, Howard Bell advocated and was a chief architect of the advertising industry self-regulatory program (NARB/NAD/CARU), which has successfully operated since 1971. He currently serves as chairman of the National Advertising Review Board.
As president of the American Advertising Federation, Bell used his national position to educate lawmakers, the media and the public. He tirelessly and eloquently articulated advertising’s informational and educational values and its capacity to stimulate competition, lower prices and create greater freedom of choice for consumers.
He joined the Washington, D.C. law firm of Wiley Rein & Fielding LLP in 1992 where he continued to pursue his legal expertise on advertising issues, and participated in a number of U.S. Supreme Court commercial speech cases in which the High Court ruled in favor of First Amendment protection for advertising.
He has served numerous industry organizations in many capacities including on the Advertising Council board of directors and executive committee, the board of directors of the American Society of Association Executives, the National Advertising Review Council, the Advertising Educational Foundation, the American Advertising Museum advisory board, the Smithsonian Advertising Center board, James Webb Young Foundation of the University of Illinois, public relations committee of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the U.S. Information Agency marketing advisory committee.
In 1984 Howard Bell received the Honor Award and Gold Medal for distinguished service in journalism from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in recognition of his "...more than three decades as a catalyst, conscience and counsel for the profession of advertising..."
He is also the recipient of the Key Award, the highest honor in the association community, from the American Society of Association Executives for his leadership in the field of association management.
Advertising Age magazine named Bell one of the 100 most influential advertising leaders of the 20th century.
Howard Bell holds a journalism degree from the University of Missouri with a major in advertising and a Juris Doctor degree from Catholic University Law School. He is a member of the Bar of the State of Maryland, the U.S. Supreme Court Bar, the Federal Communications Bar Association and the American Bar Association