The Unique Selling Point – The Reality Behind Mad Men

Adam Curtis - stickin' it to the Man

I have long hoped for a comment (or even better – a film) of some sorts on the vastly poular series Mad Men from the guy who gave us The Century of The Self, arguably the most stunning peice of 20th century social analysis I have witnessed on television. Finally, my long wait is no more, because on his blog he recently shared some great insights on the protaginists of Mad Men:

The story begins at the end of the 1950s. There were two distinct camps on Madison Avenue. And they loathed each other.

One group was led by Rosser Reeves who ran the Ted Bates agency. Reeves had invented the idea of the USP – the unique selling point. You found a phrase that summed up your product and you repeated it millions and millions of times on all media so it ”penetrated” the minds of the consumers.

His favourite was Lucky Strike’s ”It’s Toasted”.He laid this all out, with diagrams, in his ”bible” – called Reality in Advertising.

Trust me - I'm a doctor


The other camp were known as ”the depth boys”. They believed the opposite. That you penetrated the consumer’s mind by using all sorts of subtle psychological techniques to find out what they really wanted. These were feelings the consumer often didn’t even consciously realise themselves. It was called ‘Motivational Research’.

Read on and watch some never before seen footage by Curtis that further explains the goings on at Madison Avanue in the 50’s and 60’s.

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One thought on “The Unique Selling Point – The Reality Behind Mad Men

  1. V skriver:

    Tack för ett bra inlägg. Väldigt intressant ämne, artikeln var väldigt givande. Toppenblogg, keep up the good work!!


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