Clicking on the Web: Celebrating centennial of the BBB

by Howard Lestrud

From a business standpoint, some of the best information about legal and business practices comes from the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota.

We often receive tips from the BBB that we try to share with our ECM readers.

Here is a press release just received from the BBB.

It talks about the upcoming observance of the BBB’s Centennial. The release is shared in its entirety.

St. Paul — To mark the Centennial of the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Twin Cities Public Television (tpt) has co-produced, along with the BBB, a 30-minute educational video, “Decoding Truth and Trust in Advertising,” about the BBB’s efforts in the truth in advertising movement, dating back 100 years and through today.

The documentary debuted Jan. 22 on tpt’s Minnesota channel.

There will be encore presentations (on the Minnesota channel) Sunday, Jan. 29 at 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The program also airs on tpt’s LIFE channel on Sunday, Jan. 29 at noon.

“This video tells a wonderful and important story,” said BBB President and CEO Dana Badgerow.

“It throws a spotlight on the problems businesses were having with fraudulent advertisers in the early part of the 20th century, and the various forces which came together to form the first Better Business Bureau – right here in Minneapolis, back in 1912.”

Many factors led to the founding of the BBB.

One of the chief driving forces was Samuel Dobbs, a sales manager – and later president – at Coca-Cola.

He called for voluntary truth in advertising initiatives after hearing his own company’s lawyer defend against charges of questionable advertising by saying, “All advertising is exaggerated. Nobody really believes it.”

To protect and preserve the integrity of the business community, ethical business owners banded together to form a Vigilance Committee, which challenged companies who were employing unethical advertising tactics and made their findings public.

This Vigilance Committee became the Better Business Bureau (officially changing its name in 1916).

There are now 116 BBBs throughout the U.S. and Canada.

In 1997, the BBB of Minnesota became the BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota.

A satellite office was opened in Fargo in 2010 and another in St. Cloud in early 2011.

For more on the history of the BBB, visit

The theme for the BBB’s Centennial Celebration is “Lighting the Way.”

A series of special events throughout the year is planned to celebrate this milestone.

The BBB’s goal for 2012 and beyond  is to issue a call to all businesses, consumers and the media to champion business ethics and continue to work together to maintain a marketplace where buyers and sellers can trust each other.

Some of the upcoming Centennial events and programs scheduled for this year include:

• Scam-a-Thon – In March, during National Consumer Protection Week, the BBB will host several “call in” media events and interviews to educate consumers about fraud in the marketplace.

• Ethics Summit – On April 17, in partnership with the University of St. Thomas Opus Business School, the BBB, business owners, community leaders, students and professors will engage in timely discussions about the critical role ethics play in today’s marketplace. Students and business leaders throughout Minnesota and North Dakota will also be invited to participate through a special Summit Tweet Wall and Virtual Classroom/Online Exhibit Hall.

• “Everyday Ethics” Student Video Showcase – In early 2012, high school and college students will have the opportunity to create short videos about ethics; their importance and what they mean to students today. Entries will be judged and a variety of exciting prizes will be awarded.

• Centennial Luncheons – Celebratory networking events will be held next summer in Fargo (June 21), St. Cloud (July 12) and Rochester (Aug. 1) for the business community, recognizing long-standing BBB Accredited Businesses and Minnesota and North Dakota companies who have been in business for 100 years or more.

• Lighting the Way Reception at the Governor’s Residence (MN) – In partnership with the Governor’s Residence Council and 1006 Society, this July event will bring together business owners, community leaders, and policy makers to celebrate our area’s strong business culture and honor the BBB’s Centennial, as well as the centennial of the Governor’s Residence.

• BBB Night with the Saints – On July 30, the BBB and St. Paul Saints will partner for “Good Eggs and Scams,” an evening of fun, baseball – and hijinx! Before and during the game (against the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks), fans will “catch up” on ways they can avoid fraud.

• North Dakota and Minnesota State Fairs – The BBB will host the “Jukebox Junkie” free stage at the North Dakota State Fair in July, and have a fun, informative booth at the Minnesota State Fair’s Education Building. (August/September)

• Centennial Gala/Integrity Awards – In October, the BBB will celebrate 100 years of building marketplace trust with hundreds of business leaders by recognizing the area’s premier ethical companies at the annual BBB Integrity Awards.

For more information and news about the BBB’s Centennial Celebration visit

The mission of the Better Business Bureau is to be the leader in building marketplace trust by promoting, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, assist and protect the general public.

BBB hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Contact the BBB at or 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.

Visit for details regarding the 2012 BBB Centennial Celebration.

Check out Wikipedia about the BBB and learn that the Better Business Bureau (BBB), founded in 1912, is a corporation consisting of several private business franchises of local BBB organizations based in the United States and Canada.

Go to

Editor’s note: Howard Lestrud is ECM online managing editor.