WE received a strange phone call recently.

The chap in question had just purchased four worming tablets for his dog from a pet supermarket for £24 and he wanted us to tell him how much money he had saved.

Our nurse checked his dog’s weight on our system and (with a professional smidgen of absolute delight) informed him that we could have done the job for around half that price. She also offered proper advice about when to administer them. And, oh yes, sent him a reminder for his next dose by text or letter free of charge.

I have to say, even I was stunned at the difference in cost. And, to be honest, I can’t imagine going to a shop for a medical product when I could ask my vet free of charge what he recommended.

But then this gent was another in a very long line of consumers who are seduced by sophisticated advertising into thinking he was doing the right thing. And why wouldn’t he? Advertising used to be informative. It used to be, ‘Buy this product because it is cheaper than you will get it elsewhere.’

But not anymore. Beyoncé changed all that with her famous 2003 Pepsi Coke advert, pictured. Why, for example, would you associate a singer with a fizzy drink? If you consume it would you look like her, sing like her, be as popular as her? It just doesn’t make any sense to me at all.

Pet advertising is going the same way. The price of products no longer comes into it. Cans of dog food are not marketed with a yellow star label indicating the cost, as they were when I was a kid. Cat food is now never cost compared with other brands. I can’t remember the last advert I saw that suggested a purchase based purely on economic grounds. Pet food is often packaged in such a way that comparing the price of products on a shelf requires a calculator and ‘A’ grade arithmetic.

Indeed, price is now completely out (the subliminal message being, ‘How dare you even think about the money you heartless pet owner!’) And in is, well, emotional blackmail that has got absolutely nothing to do with anything.

Christmas, for example, is clearly a time when all the wild animals get together around a nice fire and have fun. The stark reality is that there is carnage going on out there with everything eating everything. And as for pet stores? Do we get a clue about what they charge for items? Not anymore.

Now advertising is all about lifestyle and having fun and gooey moments with your pet. Images that make us go, ‘awwwww’ are flashed on our screen as if somehow they represent what will happen to you if you shop there. French Bulldogs abound. Dachshunds are used to sell everything from insurance to ketchup. Conspicuous by their absence are the expensive products themselves.

There is no substance to all this. There is no attempt to educate, inform or give a good deal. But we all fall for it, time and time again.