Advertising and the paradox of prosperity

It was a pleasant surprise finding these lines in the ‘Free Exchange’ blog in ‘The Economist’:

It is a funny sort of prosperity that depends on people never being satisfied with their lot. [Link]

The header does not accord with the article. The emphasis is mischievously inverted. This is the article header:

Advertising may make people miserable, but it still has its uses

Given the tone and the conclusion of the article, the header should have been this:

Advertising may have its uses but it leaves people feeling miserable.

But, that is a very different message. In my view, the header is a tell-tale encapsulation of the seduction of unhappy, unsatisfied prosperity of modern capitalism: “more is preferred to less”.

So, the statement featured at the top of this post is a paradox and it is ironical that it appeared in ‘The Economist’ but it is entirely unironical that ‘The Economist’ gave it the heading that it did!

Postscript: the article provides the reference to an important study which motivated the article in the first place. The study finds and inverse relationship between ad. spend and citizens’ welfare. The authors apparently do provide all the standard disclaimers but the conclusion is unsurprising.

One thought on “Advertising and the paradox of prosperity

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