Friday, September 08, 2006

"The true role of advertising is exactly that of the first salesman ever hired by the first manufacturer - to get business away from his competitors. Or, as the economists phrase it, to 'shift the demand curve between products.'"

"Advertising is the art of getting a unique selling proposition into the heads of the most people at the lowest possible cost."

Both quotations from Rosser Reeves, the legendary ex-Chairman of the Board of Ted Bates & Company. Each taken from his famous writing Reality in Advertising.

Truly, a great writing, a remarkable work. My favorite story from the book...

"In 1905 Albert Lasker - described by his friend, Ben Sonnenberg as 'an advertising man carved out of the side of a mountain' - was sitting in his office in Chicago when a messenger brought in a note from a stranger. It read:

'I am downstairs in the saloon. I can tell you what advertising is. I know you don't know. If you wish to know, send the word 'yes' down by the bellboy.' SIGNED - John E. Kennedy

This was the first appearance on the advertising scene of this remarkable man. Tall, strikingly handsome, and an ex-member of the Canadian Mounted Police, he was the first great advertising theorist. Most of his theories, set down by Lasker years later, are still as fresh and glistening as new paint on the wall.

Kennedy's first question to Lasker was: 'Do you know what advertising is?'

'Yes,' said Lasker, 'I think I do. Advertising is news about a product.'

'No,' said Kennedy. 'News is merely a technique of presentation. Advertising is salesmanship in print.'

The definition sounds primitive today, but at that time it was revolutionary. Some men had confused advertising, as they still do today, with great writing. Others were devoting their lives to finding clever slogans. Still others were content with pictures of the product."

Rosser Reeves, writing in 1960, set forth the fundamentals, the basics of effective advertising. My suggestion is you read this incisive book, you'll benefit from his clarity and candor - check your library for a copy.