Advertising in the United States

Introduction to Advertising

Legal Materials

The American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) is the main trade association for the advertising industry.

To find advertising agencies, search the Standard Directory of {Domestic/International} Advertising Agencies on Lexis (BUSREF;SDAA) Lexis also has the Standard Directory of {Domestic/International} Advertisers (BUSREF;SDA) and a combined file (BUSREF;REDBK).

For information about the advertising industry, search articles from Advertising Age andAdweek, and use the sources discussed in the “Market Research” entry.

Monitoring and Tracking: Competitrack and other services will monitor advertisements in multiple media formats to find a company name, person, product, etc., at your request. Nielsen Buzzmetrics monitors company and product names mentioned in blogs.

Finding Old Ads: Sources for advertisements include:

  • for classic print advertisements;
  • Ad*Access covering ads from 1911 to 1955;
  • Ad*Access covering ads from 1911 to 1955;
  • Ads of the World;
  • YouTube for some TV commercials;
  • Adweek’s Best Spots (212-979-4634) for new commercials (maybe old ones too);
  • Competitrack lets you search their database after (free) registration
  • iTunes sells old TV commercials from Duke University’s AdViews collection (1950s-1980s), and possibly other sources.

For more information, try contacting The Paley Center for Media (212-621-6600), formerly the Museum of Radio and Television.

For foreign ads, in addition to the sources above, try:

For services that sell recordings of TV and radio shows that may include commercials, see “News – Television & Radio – Transcripts and Recordings.”

Lawyer Advertising: Each state has ethics rules regulating advertising by lawyers. For further research in this area, see “Legal Ethics.”

Regulation and NARB Reports: The advertising industry has adopted “a system of voluntary self-regulation.” The system is administered by the the National Advertising Division (“NAD”) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB), the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), the National Advertising Review Board (NARB) and the Electronic Retailing Self-Regulatory Program (ERSP). Policies for these organizations are set by the National Advertising Review Council (NARC). Information about these agencies is posted on the Advertising Self Regulatory Council (ASRC) website.

The decisions of the NAD, CARU, ERSP and NARB are called “Reports.” NAD Case Reports, CARU Caru Reports, ERSP Case Reports and NARB Panel Reports are available in print and online by subscription to the NARC Online Archives. You cansearch for Reports at the following sites: NAD, NARB, CARU, ERSP.

Rates: Advertising rates for print advertising are published in the Standard Rate & Data Service (SRDS). Some TV rates are mentioned in the reports posted in theAdvertising Age Data Center.

Spending: The U.S. Census breaks down advertising spending by SEC codes. TheAdweek “SuperBrands Report” shows ad spending by brand.

For more information about ad spending and effectiveness, see “The Advertising Game,” by Terese Mulkern Terry, 15(4) Business Information Alert 5-6 (April 2003).

Treatises: The leading legal treatise on advertising is Rosden’s Law of Advertising(Lexis/Matthew Bender).

Advertising (Content Regulation)

This section introduces, discusses and describes the basics of advertising. Then, cross references and a brief overview about Content Regulation is provided. Finally, the subject of Communications Law in relation with advertising is examined. Note that a list of cross references, bibliography and other resources appears at the end of this entry.


In Legislation

Advertising in the U.S. Code: Title 41, Subtitle II, Chapter 61

The current, permanent, in-force federal laws regulating advertising are compiled in the United States Code under Title 41, Subtitle II, Chapter 61. It constitutes “prima facie” evidence of statutes relating to Public Contracts (including advertising) of the United States. The readers can further narrow their legal research on the topic by chapter and subchapter.


See Also

Federal Trade Commission
Legal Ethics
Market Research
Red Books
Media Law

Further Reading

PPC Advertising in E-Commerce Law

PPC Advertising and the Legal Aspects of E-Commerce


See Also

  • Internet Discovery
  • Internet Evidence
  • Internet Jurisdiction
  • Trade Secrets
  • Trademark
  • Weblogs
  • Cyberlaw

Advertising: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Advertising. This part provides references, in relation to Advertising, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Advertising by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Advertising and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Advertising or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Advertising and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Advertising. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Advertising should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Advertising when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

*This resource guide is updated frequently. However, if you notice something is wrong or not working, or any resources that should be added, please notify us in any of the "Leave a Comment" area.

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