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Reality in Advertising Hardcover – March 12, 1961

4.5 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Hardcover, March 12, 1961
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 153 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (March 12, 1961)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394442288
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394442280
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #802,556 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Susanna Hutcheson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rosser Reeves was a dynamic and powerful copywriter one of the few in 1960 inducted into the Copywriters Hall of Fame. There's a reason for that: He knew and practiced reality in advertising. He stripped away the myths that were long held and that are still held today. He provided his clients with the practice of good principles that you'll read in this book.

Any copywriter or advertiser who is not fortunate enough to own a copy of this book is a sad character indeed. It is a gem. If you have to pay $300 for it, buy it. In your hands you'll own the most dynamic truth ever written about selling your clients products and services and writing great copy, making advertising pay major dividends.

You say this book was written in 1960. How valuable could it be today? Perhaps more valuable than many books being offered up by contemporary writers. What you discover in this book are practices that most people no longer use. That's sad because they're taking money, profits, off the table. They're losing market share. Advertisers are paying for sales copy and ad campaigns that will never work because big egos are involved.

While many of the books written today about advertising on the Internet, for example, will be outdated in a few years, this book, I venture, will never be outdated. While many copywriters today attempt to be great writers who are admired by their peers; writers who are puffy and more interested in selling their own skills than their client's products, Rosser Reeves was interested in one thing --- selling every widget he could for his clients. That's what this book is all about. That's why I love it and value it. That's why it is indeed a classic.

In the book, Reeves shoots down many of his contemporaries. He shoots down myths.
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Format: Hardcover
The enduring contribution of this book is the Unique Selling Proposition, or USP. In short, the USP says: Buy this product, and you will get this specific benefit. Reeves cited USP headlines, such as, "Stops B.O.," "Get's Rid Of The Film On Teeth," "Our Bottles Are Washed With Live Steam," "Wonder Bread Helps Build Strong Bodies 12 Ways," and "M&Ms Melt In Your Mouth, Not In Your Hands."

Reeves was an opponent of image advertising, literary copy, and changing ads frequently. He saw advertisements as salespeople, not performers. He also believed you should try to reach more people instead of reaching a focused market more frequently.

Previous theories stated that advertising existed to increase name awareness or build a brand image. "Reality In Advertising" was a blunt break from these earlier traditions. By the 1960s Reeve's was seen as ham-handed old timer by proponents of the advertising creative revolution, which fused ironic advertising with social movements. In the 1970s, Al Ries and Jack Trout coined the positioning concept, which suggests a more competitive approach. Another common term is the "value proposition," which measures the difference between benefit and price. Today some believe that advertising itself is outdated, and that only user generated content such as this review will advance a brand.

I believe all of these approaches can be useful depending on the situation. Many of the ideas in "Reality In Advertising" are out of date, but the concept of a Unique Selling Proposition can be effective. For example, the iPhone apps advertising used a USP. The USP works well when you have a really unique feature of your product or service.
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Format: Hardcover
Despite being touted by some as a brilliant advertising book, Reality in Advertising was a letdown - offering just a few interesting insights. It may have been revolutionary decades ago, but there is a reason that it's now out of print.

It's a pleasant, quick read, but its insights are few and far between.

Here are the interesting tidbits, some obvious, others less so.

1. You need a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) - the concept that the reader comes away with. It must tout a specific benefit, that is unique in the category (or at least not claimed by or widely recognized in others), and be persuasive enough to lure new customers over to you.

2. Advertising is the art of getting a USP into the heads of the most people at the lowest cost.

3. Ad effectiveness varies enormously. Measure the following factors to make sure you're not wasting your money - and to see how your competitors stack up.

(3A) Penetration: The percentage of people who remember your current advertising.

(3B) Usage Pull: The percentage of customers among people who remember versus don't remember your advertising. This can be negative for a bad ad.

An ad campaign's overall effectiveness is the Penetration times the Usage Pull. Doubling the effectiveness effectively doubles the ad dollars.

4. Techniques to optimize effectiveness:

(4A) Stick to a single, strong claim, to avoid diluting the power of your core message. Secondary messages are fine only if they reinforce the core message.

(4B) Copy sometimes fails to convey the intended USP. Test the copy by asking readers to articulate the message, and calculating the percent that get it right.

(4C) Don't change your ad campaign - even over decades.
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