Advertising legislation has, in many instances, served to reinforce government policy by restricting or banning the promotion of products that are deemed to contravene public policy. In religious states, many forms of advertising regulation are essentially an extension of religious law into state policy (Crown, Bray & Earle 2010). The Islamic state of Iran is one such example. Advertising laws in Iran prohibit the promotion of alcoholic drinks. These laws also impose restrictions on the portrayal of women in advertisements. In particular, they outline an Islamic dress for women that appear in TV commercials or print ads. Similar restrictions are found in other Islamic states. In Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, sharia law plays a crucial role in determining advertising restrictions. With the population of such countries being predominantly Muslim, these polices are viewed as acceptable. Their impact is relatively negligible. The public would be unlikely to buy the restricted items regardless of the law.
Advertising restrictions have also been used to promote public health by restricting the advertisement of foods and drinks that are deemed unhealthy. In Norway, advertisement of high calorie soft drinks and foods is restricted to adult television (Crown, Bray & Earle 2010). Children’s television channels only feature advertisements for foods and drinks that meet specific nutritional criteria health agencies. These restrictions are an attempt at curtailing increased childhood obesity rates in the country. In Mexico, similar advertisement restrictions have been imposed. These, however, restrict the advertisement of high calorie foods and drinks to specific time brackets. The government of Mexico has designed the advertising restriction to limit exposure of children to junk food commercials. The soft drinks markets in Norway and Mexico is growing, with children under 10 likelier to consume soft drinks than in the past. These restrictions are a timely intervention in the fight against childhood obesity.
In some cases, advertising policy is designed to enforce a government’s socio-economic agenda. In China, recent advertising regulations have been designed to control the promotion of luxurious lifestyles. In this country, advertisers are now prohibited from using words such as “luxury” and “high class” in product promotion. These regulations are aimed at preventing the country’s social inequalities from degenerating into social unrest. They are in line with The Communist Party’s agenda of maintaining an illusion of economic equilibrium among the country’s citizens. The restrictions are a response to increased wealth gaps that are characterized by a wealthy upper class and millions of poor citizens. In imposing these adverting restrictions, the government aims to downplay the income inequalities that are afflicting the country.
Advertising restriction has served to enforce government policies in a variety of ways. These restrictions have shown a level of success in controlling the sale of targeted products. As such, governments around the world are continually designing advertising law to conform to public policy.
Crown, G., Bray, O., & Earle, R. (2010). Advertising Law and Regulation: Media Law. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Professional.
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