So my copy of “Reality in Advertising” by Rosser Reeves arrived today. Which I'm very excited about btw. Not only is it out of print but copies of it currently sell for hundreds of dollars on Amazon. It's from 1961, still in good condition and from the first Borzoi edition.

You might have heard of Rosser Reeves if you have read “Ogilvy on Advertising” or Bob Bly's “The Copywriter's Handbook“. Both of these I've read recently in which Rosser is mentioned multiple times.

Funny story on how I got my copy…

So about a week ago I was going over my book “The Copywriter's Handbook” by Bob Bly where he mentions USP (Unique Selling Proposition) which Rosser coined while working for Ted Bates Agency. I decided to look up Rosser on to see if I can find his book “Reality in Advertising” and I did except copies were kinda pricey, starting at $175. Looking at the cool image of the book cover I noticed that it said below it “Customer image from Mockingbird Books” and immediately clicked on the link because that's the name of my uncle's rare book business.

I emailed him right away and asked if it was him and sure enough it was. I was totally surprised. I knew he sold rare books but never thought I would stumble upon a book I wanted on Amazon that he was selling. I told him I was interested in the book and he told me I could have it free of charge. How awesome is that?!

Not only did he send the book he included another not so famous book (but cool nonetheless) “How to Advertise” by Kenneth Roman & Jane Mass. It does have a small foreword by David Ogilvy though.

Ok, so I had to go back through my books on copywriting and advertising to figure out exactly where Rosser Reeves was mentioned and I found what I think is a brilliant quote in “Ogilvy on Advertising” by Rosser. In the book “Reality in Advertising” Rosser says”

I'm not saying that charming, witty and warm copy won't sell. I'm just saying that I've seen thousands of charming, witty campaigns that didn't. Let's say you are a manufacturer. Your advertising isn't working and your 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. And you walk in this office and talk to me, and you sit in that chair. Now, what do you want out of me? Fine writing? Do you want masterpieces? Do you want glowing things that can be framed by copywriters? Or do you want to see the goddamned sales curve stop moving down and start moving up?

That pretty much sums up what advertising is supposed to be about…

Here's Rosser Reeves on Unique Selling Proposition:

Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer. Not just words, not just product puffery, not just show-window advertising. Each advertisement must say to each reader: ‘Buy this product and you will get this specific benefit.'

The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot, or does not, offer. It must be unique-either a uniqueness of the brand or a claim not otherwise made in that particular field of advertising.

The proposition must be so strong that it can move the mass millions; i.e., pull over new customers to your product.

Fun fact: Rosser helped oversee the M&M's “melts in your mouth, not in your hands.” campaign which is still in existence.

So a personal Thank You goes out to my Uncle Mike who was so kind as to send me those books! Thank you! And if you happen to be interested in rare books at all you can find a link to his inventory on his home page at

Stay tuned for a “Reality in Advertising” book review…

If you want to pick up your own copy of Reality in Advertising they are going for about $150 on right now.

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