APRIL 10, 2020


WASHINGTON DC (APRIL 10, 2020) - The challenges facing all of us during the COVID-19 pandemic, including our national and state leaders, are daunting. Fortunately, many of the difficult steps taken so far seem to be helping to slow the spread of the virus. During this crisis, it is essential that any actions taken to respond to the pandemic are extremely carefully considered in order to limit any unanticipated and adverse consequences.

The members of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) have been involved in helping to spread the word about the very serious health threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Advertisers have been working hard to be part of the virus response effort, whether through messages reinforcing social distancing, extolling the efforts of health care professionals on the front lines, or helping to inform people about how to secure assistance to meet their basic needs.

Unfortunately, a well-meaning action by the Governor of Michigan is almost certain not to help. In a wide-ranging executive order, Governor Whitmer has ordered certain limits on advertising in stores larger than 50,000 square feet and regarding some housing rentals. Specifically, she has imposed a ban on “the advertising or promotion of goods that are not groceries, medical supplies, or items that are necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and basic operation of residences,” and on ads for certain rental properties.

This ban almost certainly violates the First Amendment and the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. It has lots of very practical problems. For example, it singles out a segment of the retail industry without any explanation as to why only large retail outlets are included in the ban. No evidence is provided that advertising for these stores would be less safe. The order also is vague, because it is hard to identify what is and is not within the ban. It is not clear exactly what items are needed for safety of a home. The ban might limit the ability of a large retailer to advertise that it has in stock fabric for use in making face masks. The order is counter-productive, because the governor calls for maintaining “communications and information technology, including news media” because they are essential to the functioning of the state. But advertising is the life blood of these news and information organizations, and this ban would undermine their capacities and limit the economic support for the programming they carry. Lastly, advertising the innumerable activities important to everyday life is critical to supporting our already damaged economy and helping to ensure that it is poised to recover as quickly as possible.

This sweeping advertising ban should not be allowed to stand. ANA calls on the Governor to reconsider and rescind this part of her executive order.


The mission of the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) is to drive growth for marketing professionals, brands and businesses, the industry, and humanity. The ANA serves the marketing needs of 20,000 brands by leveraging the 12-point ANA Growth Agenda, which has been endorsed by the Global CMO Growth Council. The ANA’s membership consists of U.S. and international companies, including client-side marketers, nonprofits, fundraisers, and marketing solutions providers (data science and technology companies, ad agencies, publishers, media companies, suppliers, and vendors). The ANA creates Marketing Growth Champions by serving, educating, and advocating for more than 50,000 industry members that collectively invest more than $400 billion in marketing and advertising annually.

Dan Jaffe
Group EVP, Government Relations, ANA
Phone: 646.369.4886