At MW marketing we like to think we take a pragmatic, sales focused view to the advice we give to our clients. One of the influences on our approach was the inspiration behind the recent TV series phenomena ‘Mad Men’; Rosser Reeves.
Rosser Reeves was a hugely successful advertising executive and pioneer of television advertising. He believed the purpose of advertising is to sell. He insisted that an advertisement or commercial should show off the value of a product, not the cleverness of a copywriter.
Reeves generated millions for his clients, the Ted Bates agency where he rose to chairman. His ads were focused around what he called the unique selling proposition, the one reason the product needed to be bought or was better than its competitors. These often took the form of slogans such as M&M’s ‘melt in your mouth, not in your hand’
Reeves pointed out that to work, advertising had to be honest. He insisted the product being sold actually be superior, and argued that no amount of advertising could move inferior goods. He also disagreed that advertising was able to create demand where it did not exist, he believed it was a waste of money to claim uniqueness that doesn’t exist, because consumers will soon find out, and they won’t come back to the brand.
Some of our favourite quotes:
Advertising is, actually, a simple phenomenon in terms of economics. It is merely a substitute for a personal sales force – an extension, if you will, of the merchant who cries aloud his wares.
No, sir, I’m not saying that charming, witty and warm copy won’t sell. I’m just saying I’ve seen thousands of charming, witty campaigns that didn’t sell.
Unless a product becomes outmoded, a great campaign will not wear itself out.
You must make the product interesting, not just make the ad different. And that’s what too many of the copywriters in the U.S. today don’t yet understand.
Let’s say you have $1,000,000 tied up in your little company and suddenly your advertising isn’t working and sales are going down. And everything depends on it. Your future depends on it, your family’s future depends on it, other people’s families depend on it. Now, what do you want from me? Fine writing? Or do you want to see the goddamned sales curve stop moving down and start moving up?