What a lucky coincidence! In my post about Super Bowl commercials, I made the point that advertising could not force people to purchase inferior products. I was challenged on this, and I admit that I totally blanked on the specific arguments made by Mises and other members of the Austrian School.
Then, a couple days later, I watched this video by Bob Murphy. The entire talk is well worth watching. Murphy, as usual, makes some brilliant and often misunderstood points about how losses, not just profits, are a critical element of a free market system. The portion that pertains to advertising specifically starts at 10:30. Murphy brings up the New Coke as a prime example of advertising failing to persuade consumers to purchase a product they disliked. Coca-Cola was one of the largest corporations in the world and launched a huge advertising campaign to ensure this highly visible product launch succeeded. And it didn’t. Because people didn’t like it. Later, he cites Mises’ classic point that advertising is available to all products regardless of quality. If a bad product is successful because of advertising, a good product could also advertise, and presumably have even more success.
On a separate note, he also wrote an article about the dentist who fired his hygienist for being too attractive and putting his marriage at risk. Although I never posted about this incident here, I did get into some pretty heated arguments about it on other websites. Naturally, Murphy essentially backs up more core assertion that just because something is morally objectionable does not mean that it should be made illegal by the state.