The Bates network is planning to regain ownership of the Unique
Selling Proposition, the philosophy it introduced to the advertising
world more than 35 years ago.
USP was one of the most powerful influences on advertising thinking when
it appeared in 1961, but Bates’s hold on it slipped as the term became
part of the industry’s vocabulary.
Now Bates wants to reassert its heritage and update it as a way of
uniting its offices across the world.
USP was the brainchild of Rosser Reeves, a copywriter who was head of
the Ted Bates agency in New York in the mid-50s and is credited with
making the first genuine TV commercial.
A champion of aggressive hard-sell advertising as a means to effective
selling, Reeves resolved that Bates would find a USP for each product it
advertised, allowing it to make a claim that no competitor could
The philosophy, which Reeves expounded in his book, Reality in
Advertising, resulted in some of the world’s most famous advertising
slogans, including ’Melts in your mouth - not in your hand’ for Mars’s
Graham Hinton, the chairman of Bates Dorland, said: ’Some basic things
in advertising don’t change and USP still has relevance.’
Les Stern, the Bates Worldwide planning director, is holding training
sessions on USP for senior managers in the network’s major regions.
The sessions form part of a larger initiative under which a newly
created resource centre in New York will carry out a range of programmes
aimed at raising creative standards across the network.
John Fawcett, chairman of the Bates Worldwide creative board, said the
aim of the initiative was to ensure that Bates agencies were perceived
as creative leaders in their respective markets.