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The brand is it

John Kay on why modern advertisements contain no information

By John Kay   July 1999

When i first learnt econo-mics 30 years ago, I was taught to despise advertising. Economics was about the allocation of scarce resources between competing ends. Advertising, which inflamed desires and distorted choices, interfered with this process. Worse still, it interfered with economic models which were based on rational preferences, and perfect information. The case against advertising was put with elegance and wit by John Kenneth Galbraith and with earnestness and research by Nicholas Kaldor. Kaldor even developed a plan for a tax on advertising. He came close to implementing it with his selective employment tax.

Most people in the advertising…

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