I mean to forbid any kind of promotion of brands in mass media.

A society might want to forbid advertising because they see it as a practice that costs a lot of resources, but doesn't meaningfully improve the goods themselves. It can also help lead to monopolies.

Has there ever been an otherwise capitalist society that has forbidden advertising? If so, what were the results?

Has anyone ever studied the effects of an advertising ban on a society?

  • somewhat related
    – lazarusL
    Mar 30, 2016 at 13:17
  • 3
    So - how do you expect a new company to find a market for their product to overturn existing monopolies? Mar 30, 2016 at 13:47
  • 1
    @Michael Broughton maybe through some centralized goods database/catalogue?
    – Anixx
    Mar 30, 2016 at 13:50
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    This question sounds too much like a rant, than an actual question. Could you clarify it a bit, removing the unnecessary parts, and precising what kind of study you are looking for? Mar 30, 2016 at 13:51
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    Apparently Germany has more restrictions on advertising than the US does. And if you're looking for economics resources, you may be better off asking on economics.SE.
    – Brythan
    Mar 31, 2016 at 1:33

3 Answers 3


First, there is more lame content between the ads sometimes.

Second, companies take a "percentage of your money" for lots of things. R&D, employee benefits, transportation, all of which are required to bring a product to market. Advertising is just another business expense, and an important one to generate sales.

Third, you will now have companies with established distribution networks having a virtual stranglehold on the market - making it almost impossible for new products to gain entry.

I understand the annoyance of ads. Truly. But in a competitive market vendors need to be able to differentiate their products. Instead you'll be paying extra for fancier packaging / in-store promotions / fliers at your door / whatever other ideas they come up with. Or, the competitive market will die and you'll have monopolies fixing prices.

I'll take the ads.

  • You forgot that it would kill most non-subscription TV.
    – Phil Lello
    Mar 30, 2016 at 15:54
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    non-subscription TV is on its deathbed anyway, although anything that killed the so-called "news" channels might just be deemed a public service! :P Mar 30, 2016 at 16:03
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    @MichaelBroughton 5.5 years later and there is propaganda being pushed as "news". It can stay because propaganda is profitable... Sep 3, 2021 at 8:33

As far as I'm aware, in the early days of television this was the case in some countries. For example, the BBC first began regular broadcast TV to the UK in 1936, but does not allow paid advertising - I'm unable to find a reference on if this has always been the case.

The Television Act 1954 paved the way for commercial TV stations, generally funded by advertising.

It would probably be relevant to consider the reasons for both the 1954 act, and the affect on society. Feel free to pick another country which started with a state broadcaster and later introduced commercial TV.

  • It has certainly been true of the BBC for over 50 years. In fact they used to ban the mere mention of commercial brands. Blue Peter (childrens magazine show) showed how to make things out of boxes and sticky back plastic, and the brands on the boxes were always carefully taped over. Sep 5, 2021 at 19:02

It would be possible. Functionally, it would be similar to a laws that prohibit trademark infringement, except that all uses of trademarks would be infringing (a trademark is the legal term for a "brand").

North Korea probably does so already.

But, an outright prohibition on advertising brands in the media would abridge legal free speech protections in the constitutions and/or human rights treaties, of almost all countries in most of the developed and developing world, and many countries that are not in those categories. Also, weak third-world governments would often not have the practical ability to exert so much control over all forms of mass media.

  • Lots of countries restrict advertising of many classes of products. Advertising cigarettes is banned in the UK, and adverts for gambling were formerly banned; adverts for alcohol, prescription medicines, and other products are also restricted. Many countries have restrictions on advertising, including bans on advertising certain products in certain forms of media, codes governing the contents of advertising, and rules about accuracy in advertising. In most countries, it's not considered a violation of the right to free speech if there is a clear public policy reason for it.
    – Stuart F
    Sep 3, 2021 at 17:51
  • @StuartF A ban on any and all advertising of any and all brands, however, probably would be a violation of the right to free speech.
    – ohwilleke
    Sep 3, 2021 at 19:41

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