I Am Legend: Rosser Reeves

By SuperSpy 

Who is Rosser Reeves? Good question. Rosser was an American advertising executive and early pioneer of television advertising. He was the creative partner of
Ted Bates and what would be an agency with $425 million in billings.

Rosser was a firm proponent of the idea that advertising was for slogan repetition, not entertainment. One of his most famous quotes is “Unless a product becomes outmoded, a great campaign will not wear itself out. ” These theories were combined to create Rosser’s marketing formula – Unique Selling Proposition. He defined USP as having three principles:


– Each ad must make a proposition: “Buy this product and you get these benefits”.

– The proposition must be unique: something that your competitors do not, cannot or will not offer.

– The proposition must sell: it must be something prospects really want; it pulls them over to your product.

The most memorable example of USP is the M&M’s slogan. At the time, M&M’s was one of the first sugar-coated chocolate candies on the market. So Reeves wrote, “It melts in your mouth, not in your hands.”

Rosser’s longtime battle with David Ogilvy has also made him a legend of the business. The two men were former coworkers and brothers-in-law to top it off. Reeves’ book, “Reality in Advertising,” was quickly followed by Ogilvy’s, “Confessions of an Advertising Man.”
While they engaged in lively dispute, the two were said to have great respect for one another. Sigh. Those were the days. Lively disputes about advertising and all that.

Reeves also created Dwight Eisenhower’s presidential ads for the 1952 election. One of which is featured below. At age 55 Reeves retired and dies in 1984.

Rosser still lives. TV show Mad Men supposedly uses Reeves’ career achievements as the model for the accomplishments of Don Draper.

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