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?