David Ogilvy: Nuggets of Advertising Wisdom

by buildingpharmabrands


David Mackenzie Ogilvy (June 23, 1911 – July 21, 1999) was a legendary advertising executive. He has often been called The Father of Advertising. In 1963, TIME called him, The most sought after wizard in today’s advertising industry. The British government awarded him the CBE (Commander in the Order of British Empire).

His two books: The confessions of an advertising man and Ogilvy on Advertising are a must read for anyone who wants to know and understand about advertising. Here are some nuggets of his advertising wisdom:

  1. If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall be a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people, who are bigger than we are, we shall be a company of giants.
  2. I notice increasing reluctance on the part of marketing executives to use judgement; they are coming to rely too much on research, and they use it as a drunk uses a lamp post for support, rather than for illumination.
  3. If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.
  4. A good advertisement is one, which sells the product without drawing attention to itself.
  5. I don’t know the rules of grammar. If you are trying to persuade people to do something or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use everyday, the language in which they think. We try to write in the vernacular.
  6. If you even have the good fortune to create a great advertising campaign, you will soon see another agency steal it. This is irritating, but don’t let it worry you; nobody ever built a brand by imitating somebody else’s advertising.
  7. On the average, five times as many people read the headline as they read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents of your dollar.
  8. The more informative your advertising, the more persuasive it will be.
  9. The most important word in the vocabulary of advertising is Test. If you pretest your product with consumers and pretest your advertising you will do well in the marketplace.
  10. The relationship between a manufacturer and his advertising agency is almost as intimate as the relationship between a patient and his doctor. Make sure that you can live happily with your prospective client before you accept his account.
  11. Good copy can’t be written with tongue in cheek, written just for a living. You’ve got to believe in the product.
  12. Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals.
  13. Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.
  14. Remove advertising, disable a person or firm from proclaiming its wares and merits, and the whole of society and of the economy is transformed. The enemies of advertising are the enemies of freedom.
  15. There is no need for advertisements to look like advertisements. If you make them look like editorial pages, you will attract about 50 per cent more readers. What really makes consumers decide whether to buy or not to buy is the content of your advertising, not its form.
  16. You now have to decide what image you want for your brand? Image means personality. Products, like people, have personalities, and they can make or break them in the marketplace.
  17. Be more ambitious. Don’t bunt. Aim out of the park. Compete with the immortals.
  18. Tell the truth, but make the truth fascinating. You can’t bore people into buying your product, you can only interest them into buying it.

Click here to watch The Ad Week Video on Everything you need to know about David Ogilvy in four minutes.