Remembering David Ogilvy

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Yes, I am late on this – David Ogilvy’s 10th death anniversary was on July 22nd. But it’s never too late to remember someone who has perhaps had the greatest influence on the advertising agency business. I don’t think many of the executives who join advertising nowadays are aware of his books, his views and his work. A pity really. So any newbies reading this, please pick up Ogilvy on Advertising, pronto.

Ogilvy on Advertising was a great influence on me when I joined advertising. The ads for Jamaica Tourism and many others leap out in front of my eyes even today. Many tend to mock his ‘rules’ – no to reverse type, don’t use humour because nobody bought from a clown – and that tends to overpower his real beef about advertising. That it must sell. His experience in market research and later in Direct Response influenced his thinking on all advertising – it’s primary job is selling. Some of his quotes:

A good advertisement is one which sells the product without drawing attention to itself.

Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them to get on with it. Look for people who will aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine.

I notice increasing reluctance on the part of marketing executives to use judgment; they are coming to rely too much on research, and they use it as a drunkard uses a lamp post for support, rather than for illumination.

If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants.

The biggest inspiration for me was the fact that he joined advertising when he was 39. It is not unusual to see agency Presidents & CEOs of that age today. But to plunge into a profession which was his passion when pushing 40 and then making a success of it, speaks volumes about his will to succeed.

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