Deception is essential to modern marketing. It is not true that a particular brand of margarine will impart a happy family life or that a sports car will deliver sexual allure. Yet the purpose of advertising is to convince us that these things are true. Supporters of the market who might suggest that this is just harmless fun and that consumers know how to apply a degree of scepticism need to explain why year after year billions of dollars are committed to such a futile activity and why such a large proportion of the world's creative talent is employed by marketing agencies.
For [Friedrich] Hayek, a person's freedom hinged on 'whether he can expect to shape his course of action in accordance with his present intentions, or whether somebody else can so manipulate the conditions so as to make him act according to that person's will rather than his own'. Is this not the point we have reached, where in every decision the 'essential data' of our lives have been created or manipulated by the marketers, so that our will is bent to another's purpose?