David Ogilvy’s Enduring Advertising Principles

by buildingpharmabrands

June 23, 1911 - July 21, 1999

June 23, 1911 – July 21, 1999

Seventy-four years ago, David Ogilvy the legendary adman now, was a young 25-year old assistant executive when he got given a very rare and unique opportunity of addressing his entire agency staff on his views on advertising. Many years later, when Ogilvy became the chairman of Ogilvy & Mather sent the following excerpt of what he presented as his views on advertising in 1936 to his staff with two comments stating that it proves two things:

At 25 I was brilliantly clever, and

I have learned nothing new in the subsequent 27 years.

Here are the views he presented to his agency staff in 1936, which are as relevant today as they were then as published in The Un-published David Ogilvy, brilliantly edited by Joel Raphaelson.

Every advertisement must tell the whole story, because the public does not read advertisements in series.

The copy must be human and very simple, keyed right down to its market – a market in which self-conscious artwork and fine language serve only to make the buyers wary.

Every word in the copy must count. Concrete figures must be substituted for atmospheric claims; clichés must give way to facts, and empty exhortations to alluring offers.

Facetious advertising is a device dear to the amateur but anathema to the advertising agent, who learns that permanent success has rarely been built on frivolity and that people do not buy from clowns.

Superlatives belong to the market place and have no place in a serious advertisement; they lead readers to discount the realism of every claim.

Apparent monotony of treatment must be tolerated, because only the manufacturer reads all his own advertisements.

Follow these enduring advertising principles in your communication strategies and you are sure to be on your road to uncommon success.