The Quebec government has moved to ban advertising that sells cars on the basis of how fast they go.

And it’s not just Quebec. Government around the world are paying closer attention than ever before to the effects of advertising on behaviour. Is this increase in obesity being driven by junk-food advertising? If so should fast-food ads be banned. Same with fast cars that glorify deaths on the road.

But is there a fallacy here. The impulse to regulate advertising of normally safe legal products aimed at adult consumers is based on the unlikely notion that people automatically react to ads, like Pavlov’s dogs.

There is an interesting example of this on the American political scene. Governor Romney has outspent his opponents, McCain and Huckabee, by millions and million of advertising dollars. Yet McCain and Huckabee have won so now Romney has pulled all his advertising in future contests.

Furthermore, what criteria would government bureacurats use to suppress advertising?

As pressure builds against death and injury on the road, whether caused by drink or excessive speed or both, the high-speed car ads will fade to black on their own.

What do you think?

Government regulation or free market competition?



  1. 1
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    I may be daydreaming but I feel that the general population knows better than giving in to that kind of publicity. More regulations lead only to less personal responsibilty. When advertisers feel their ads generate indifference, or worse antipathy they usually withdraw them either of their own volition or that of their ill affected customers.
    We already have all the statutes and laws necessary. For instance enforcement of the speed limits would quickly dispose of fast car ads. We know that we can get away with 18 km over the posted speed. Zero tolerance is the answer, not banning speed car ads.

  2. 2

    Here in New York we had an ad running for a car company who maybe I shouldn’t name (so don’t you worry, Mercedes) that I was appalled by. They say the particular model that people were apparently giving as Christmas gifts (which is a sure sign of an unhealthy personal relationship if there ever was one) has a suspension system that AUTOMATICALLY TIGHTENS FOR AGGRESSIVE DRIVING.

    Now, my legal expertise is limited to being able to scare young men away from my daughter and handling various encounters with neighbor’s dogs, but it seems to me from reading newspapers and such that aggressive driving is a readily punishable offense in most places. Writing letters to the FCC and the Interstate Commerce Commission yielded no effect upon the use of this ad.

    And New York has no shortage of aggressive drivers –

  3. 3
    Jim Says:

    I don’t recall ever seeing an ad that reads « This baby can do 160 kph ».
    However my main concern is « big brother » pissing on my carpet once again. Can you believe that they want to force us to use winter tires,
    as all season tires are not good enough. What they don’t realize is that during the winter we are on bare pavement 85% of the time, and that
    we need the extra rubber contact with the ground for better braking.

  4. 4
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Under -5C all season tires loose their adherence because they harden too much. Winter tires remain soft down to -35C. Thus they stick better to the road and brake better. They are much safer. Town dwellers tend to forget that a dry pavement is no garantee that your tires stick to the road.

  5. 5

    Not sure, but I’d recommend reading Marcuse and Adorno to build up one’s defenses against advertising.

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