"We sell -- or else."
- David Ogilvy, The Unpublished David Ogilvy
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- David Ogilvy, The Unpublished David Ogilvy
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I first heard the name 'Ogilvy' six years ago on some forgotten episode of Mad Men. Intrigued by the idea of potentially meeting a real-life Don Draper, I cracked open the cover of Confessions of an Advertising Man the next day. Inside were some of the most juiciest secrets on business, leadership, and life, putting Don Draper's own to shame; namely, the practical value of honesty in work and at home.
I (re)read at least one of his a year. Confessions is high-level; witty, eloquent, and mindset-shaping. On Advertising is the bottom level; tactical, creative and packed with direct, actionable instruction. Blood is philosophical, psychological; meditative. A holy trinity of the genius that is 'the father of modern advertising.' But The Unpublished David Ogilvy, republished in 2012, fills in more gaps of the man —the agency he built, the ads he created, and the culture of creativity he nurtured — for 58 years via a mosaic of impressionistic tiles in the form of letters, notes, memos, speeches, ads, interviews, and photographs.
The man loved lists. Hierarchical ones. Ones that cut through and capture the essence of a thing. And he hated paper clips. Most interestingly though, Unpublished delves beneath the hood of Ogilvy and Mather's legendary corporate culture and explores its core features, ending on an insightful look at the desperate need for and priceless value of leadership.
If you only read one of Ogilvy's, oh, hell, don't make me choose. Just grab one. It'll sell the others. [JG]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
After dropping out of his English college and moving to France to cook 'in a great kitchen' for 68 hours a week, David Ogilvy then returned to the home island to sell Aga cookers door-to-door. He next cut his teeth in consumer research with George Gallup at the Audience Research Institute in New Jersey.
At 38, like the man's autobiographical note above, he took a left turn into a copywriter chair at the London ad agency Mather and Crowther. During WWII, he served in the field of espionage and wartime propaganda at Camp X, successfully sabotaging the reputation of business supplying the Nazis with industrial materials.
After the war, and a full decade at Gallup, Ogilvy started his own agency with the support of Mather and Crowther. In ten years, he turned $6,000 into over $60+ million in billings on Madison Avenue. Ogilvy is known as 'the father of modern advertising' and his book Confessions of an Advertising Man, a tongue-in-cheek-titled, tour-de-force book on business ethics published in '63, remains a perennial seller to this day.
"Every advertisement must tell the whole sales story, because the public does not read advertisements in series."
12. "Companies that have cultivated their individual identities by shaping values, making heroes, spelling out rites and rituals, and acknowledging the cultural network have an edge."
11. "The mass of people are skeptical of a great man, especially one with a great mind. They would rather vote for someone who is mediocre, like themselves."
10. "Every advertisement must tell the whole sales story, because the public does not read advertisements in series."
9. "Study the best time of for calling; between twelve and two p.m. you will not be welcome, whereas a call out an unorthodox time of day — after supper in the summer for instance — will often succeed ... In general, study the methods of your competitors and do the exact opposite."
8. "Escape from the sterile influences of dons, who are nothing more than pickled undergraduates." — Advice to to his 18-year-old great nephew about whether to attend university or enter the work force
7. "Whenever you write a commercial, bear in mind that is is likely to be seen by your children, your wife — and your conscience."
6. "Every advertisement is part of the long-term investment in your personality." — Burleigh Gardner and Sidney Levy, Harvard Business Review
5. "We have exercised care in selecting our clients. That is why our roster is such a remarkable one. Wee seek clients who manufacture a product which we can be proud to advertise — a product which we can recommend without reservation to our own families. We seek clients whose basic attitudes to business are about the same as ours. The agency-client relationship is an intimate one, and it only works well when there is a strong ingredient of mutual respect on both sides."
4. "We have a tendency to use research as a drunkard uses a lamp post, for support, not for illumination."
3. "I would like all of you to make a New Years Resolution. Cut your wordage in half. This will make it possible for us to finish our homework before midnight."
2. "Whatever you do in life, however humble, is OK if you do it right."
1. "I believe in the Scottish proverb: "Hard work never killed a man." Men die of boredom, psychological conflict and disease. They never die of hard work."
"Search all your parks in all the cities. You'll find no statues of committees."
- David Ogilvy, Confessions of an Advertising Man
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