This chapter focuses on contemporary consuming controversies and explores the way in which advertising functions as a lightning rod, channelling a range of social, political and economic concerns. In earthing these currents of critical intervention, advertising in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries has been consistently subjected to intense criticism and has been cast as primary mediator of social degeneration, moral debasement and a range of other retrograde social shifts. Taking as a case study the regulation of advertising for ‘dangerous commodities’, this analysis is situated precisely during the dying days of tobacco advertising – a ban on such advertising came into force in the UK on 14 February 2003 and, at the time of writing, a European Union directive banning print advertisements has been agreed. In addition, the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, that imposes global restrictions on tobacco advertising, was agreed in May 2003. I offer an analysis of a particular moment and the cultural concerns and political imperatives that it condenses. But the scope of my analysis is not limited to advertising for ‘dangerous commodities’ such as tobacco and alcohol: a key part of my argument is that regulatory practices (and commercial practices aimed at deflecting criticism and regulation) actively expand the definition of ‘dangerous advertising’ such that all advertising comes to be seen as threatening or framed as a social pathogen. Nor is my analysis restricted to the specific debates circulating during this intense period of regulatory concern; this chapter tracks how regulatory regimes form one element of the ‘circuits of belief’ in and about advertising that constitute an important, on-going form of relationality between commodities and advertisements, persons and images. To explore this circulation of perceptions about advertising, and the relations between advertising images and commodities, I examine the ways in which the following important groups figure the power or effects of advertising: (1) regulatory bodies such as the Advertising Standards Authority; (2) the advertising trade associations of the Institute for Practitioners in Advertising and the Advertising Association, and non-governmental organizations such as the World Health Organization; and (3) UK and European Union (EU) directives on advertising. In Chapter 3, I expand this analysis to encompass advertising agencies and the personal and commercial investments of advertising practitioners in these circuits of belief. Regulatory bodies, trade associations and non-governmental organizations discursively construct advertising

for particular commercial or social purposes. In parallel to UK and EU legislation, these groups aim to license their claims by drawing on widely circulating perceptions of advertising as well as diverse forms of research.