John Romer’s early leadership in the fight for truth in advertising and his vigorous and dynamic direction of the policies of an advertising journal of wide circulation and great influence in the advertising profession are perhaps his greatest contributions to the industry.
As editor and publisher of Printer’s Ink, from 1908 to 1933, he perhaps did as much to influence the course of events in the advertising world as any other individual. He believed strongly in the power and responsibility of advertising and recognized that such a force could be used to destroy as well as to build. It could only be used constructively and in the public interest if the advertising industry worked to meet the highest standards of honesty.
A man of strong convictions and a highly developed sense of fairness, he was determined in his advocacy of strict regulation of advertising morals. He was an early advocated of state laws that would uphold the principle of truth in advertising and believed in their rigid enforcement.
Working closely with the leaders in the Associated Advertising Clubs and the American Federation of Advertising, Romer and his lawyer produced a statute known as the Printer’s Ink model statute or the truth in advertising statute. This model piece of legislation became law in the District of Columbia and 43 of the 48 states, some with slight modifications. Romer’s sponsoring of the bill and his use of Printer’s Ink to publicize the cause was integral to its success. Romer considered its adoption into law to be one of the crowning achievements of his life’s work.