Mythbuster: The Rosser Reeves Fallacy

Les Binet and Sarah Carter

Les Binet and Sarah Carter get a little bit angry about some of the nonsense they hear around them... like the Rosser Reeves Fallacy.

Recently, a young planner came to us with some exciting research findings. She was trying to evaluate the effect of her client's new ad, and had found a fantastic piece of evidence. A research company had shown that people who recognised the ad had a much better image of the brand, and were significantly more likely to buy it. Perfect proof that it worked. Surely?

Grrr... This particular nonsense has cropped up with monotonous regularity for over 50 years. It's called The Rosser Reeves Fallacy. And it's still alive and kicking in 2014.

Rosser Reeves was one of the most famous ad men of the 1950s. In 1961, his book Reality in Advertising outlined a simple method for measuring ad effectiveness. Take a sample of your target audience. Ask them about your brand. Then show them your ad and see how many of them recognise it. Compare brand scores for ad recognisers with brand scores for non-recognisers. Hey presto, there's your ad effect!