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Rosser Reeves on the Power of Focus in Advertising

Rosser Reeves on the Power of Focus in Advertising

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Derrick DayeManaging Partner
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Derrick has spent the past 18 yearshelping organizations release the fullpotential of their brands. Hisexperience is as deep as it is diverseencompassing the disciplines of advertising, branding, salespromotion and public relations. Mostnotably he has worked with the WhiteHouse Press Corps, Johnson & Johnsonand the National BasketballAssociation.Call The Blake Project - here's my cell:813.842.2260Brad VanAukenChief Brand Strategist
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Recognized as one of the world’sleading experts on brand managementand marketing, Brad wrote the bestselling book Brand Aid, the firstcomprehensive practical, ‘how-to’guide on building winning brands. Amuch sought after consultant andspeaker, he writes extensively for thebusiness press and academic journalsand is regularly quoted in tradepublications.
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Rosser Reeves On The Power Of Focus In AdvertisingDavid Ogilvy's Best Business AdviceDeveloping Organization Mission,Vision & Values
« David Ogilvy's Best Business Advice
NOVEMBER 27, 2010
Rosser Reeves On The Power Of Focus In Advertising
In 1961 noted advertising executiveRosser Reeves'book
Reality in Advertising
was published. Forty-nine years later, has his thinking remained relevant? Yoube the judge...
Chapter 9. The Advertising Burning Glass
A story goes that old Calvin Coolidge, sitting patiently in a stern little NewEngland church, listened attentively to a minister who had preached steadily fortwo hours. A friend, later, asked him what the sermonwas about."Sin," said Coolidge."What did he say," persisted the friend."He was against it," said Coolidge.The story has a value to advertising men, for it illustrates a reality principlemade crystal clear by a study of hundreds of penetration case histories. Theprinciple is this:The consumer tends to remember just one thing from an advertisement—onestrong claim, or one strong concept.The advertisement may have said five, ten, or fifteen things, but the consumerwill tend to pick out just one, or else, in a fumbling, confused way, he tries tofuse them together into a concept of his own.Reality campaigns, those that climb the ladder of penetration with the mostspeed, do not put the consumer in this predicament. Instead, they gather theirenergies together into a tight coil. They present him with one moving claim orconcept which he can easily remember. Like a burning glass, which focuses therays of the sun into one hot, bright circle, they bring together all thecomponent parts into a single incandescence of their own.We do not mean that the campaign should not say a dozen things about theproduct. These can add depth, color, dimension, and persuasiveness. In fact,they are very often the difference between "telling" and "selling."A legendary copywriter, reading a galley of this book, put it another way: "I liketo think of the bits and pieces of a product's individuality as pieces of tile. Theymust be assembled, like a mosaic, into one striking and memorable theme, forthe public simply cannot carry all the individual pieces in its head."A President of the United States, while running for office, covered fourteendifferent points in one of his speeches. It was a clear and vigorous speech.Despite its clearness, however, a study made the next day showed that less
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than 2% of the people knew what he had said. Had he picked one point of focus,he might have had 30%, 40%, or 50% remember the substance of his message.Marcus Cato, the Roman orator, understood this principle perfectly when hefocused a whole series of speeches into the thunderous phrase: "Carthage mustbe destroyed!" With it, he put an end not only to a city, but to a civilization.Long after Americans had forgotten Franklin Delano Roosevelt's first inauguraladdress, they remembered, in essence, all that there was, when theyremembered: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!"William Jennings Bryan knew this perfectly: "You shall not press down upon thebrow of labor this crown of thorns! You shall not crucify mankind upon a crossof gold!"Winston Churchill practiced it instinctively: "Never. . . was so much owed by somany to so few!"An advertising theoretician who read the above paragraphs entered ademurrer. "I don't know about that," he said. "I might write an advertisementand list twenty-five separate advantages, and it might cause the consumer torush right out and buy."This is true.However, we are discussing penetration—which may be defined as "what it ispossible for the consumer to carry in his head." For most people do not rushright out and buy.The same advertising man, when asked to name some of the great advertisingcampaigns, rattled off:"HALITOSIS" . . ."LIFEBUOY AND B.O." . . ."L.S.M.F.T. AND THE CHANT OF THE TOBACCO AUCTIONEER" . . ."IT'S TOASTED" . . ."WHICH TWIN HAS THE TONI?" . . ."THOSE THREE STREAMS OF BUBBLES WHICH PROVE ANACIN BETTER THANASPIRIN OR BUFFERIN" . . ."THOSE FLAVOR BUDS FOR MAXWELL HOUSE COFFEE" . . ."WONDER BREAD HELPS BUILD STRONG BODIES 12 WAYS" . . ."THAT OLD 'FILM ON TEETH' CAMPAIGN OF CLAUDE HOPKINS" . . ."COLGATE DENTAL CREAM CLEANS YOUR BREATH WHILE IT CLEANS YOURTEETH."You can agree or disagree, but this is a central truth of reality in advertising.The great campaigns, like the burning glass, fuse together all the componentsinto a copy focus that generates not only light, but heat.
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