Americans have very different attitudes towards advertising. Some see it as promoting a richer lifestyle through providing information about the remarkable choices available to consumers.
But advertising also causes anxiety across the political spectrum. There is continuing concern that modern innovations in advertising have somehow tipped the balance of power between the firm and the person, resulting in irresistible manipulation. In previous eras, motivation research and subliminal advertising were the powerful innovations. Today it is highly tailored ads based upon tracking of past behavior.
Advertisers stoke these anxieties by making dramatic claims about these innovations—but they are, after all, advertisers selling advertising. In hindsight we know claims about motivation research were inflated and that the subliminal claims were a hoax. In general, when advertisers focus on the methods of selling and describe a power to sell anything to anyone, it triggers anxiety about autonomy, and thus calls for rules of the advertising road.
Some think that advertising is wasteful in that it adds expense to products; that it promotes materialism and superficial values; that it creates “false needs;” that it focuses on brand loyalty instead of upon comparative characteristics; that is relies upon emotional rather than reasoned appeals; that it increases barriers to entry; that it promotes monopoly; that it corrupts the independence of media; that is corrupts the young; that it is too repetitive, loud, or interruptive; and that it is tasteless or aesthetically objectionable.