US Supreme Court Greenlights Mandatory Commodity Ads

26 May 2005

A most un-American activity - paying for ads whether you wish to or not - was given the green light Tuesday by the US Supreme Court in a six votes to three ruling.

The Justices in their wisdom held that commodity advertising programs, for example the beef trade's It's what for dinner campaign, are government advertising and as such outside the protection of the First Amendment, which for non-US readers holds that ...

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
The Supreme Court's ruling reverses the decision earlier this year by a lower court which upheld an appeal by the Livestock Marketing Association.

Pending a possible further appeal by the LMA, the question of whether or not the government can levy mandatory contributions toward generic ad campaigns (for commodities such as beef, cotton, milk and oranges), appears to be settled. It can. Like it or not.

Such campaigns currently account for over $250 million (€198.6m; £136.7m) annually.

Data sourced from AdAge (USA); additional content by WARC staff