January 02, 2017

Blog All Dog-eared Pages: Ogilvy On Advertising

I read this years ago, but managed not to publish this blog post. I've just come across the draft again, so rectifying that mistake.

Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy ("Ogilvy on Advertising" on OpenLibrary "Ogilvy on Advertising" on BookBrainz) was an easy and enjoyable read. It's a pretty short book, but packed with lots of nuggets of interest.

Page 7

When I write an advertisement, I don't want you to tell me that you find it 'creative'. I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.

Page 12

If you cannot afford the services of professionals to do this research, do it yourself. Informal conversations with half-a-dozen housewives can sometimes help a copywriter more than formal surveys in which he does not participate.

Page 16

Big ideas come from the unconscious. This is true in art in science and in advertising. But your unconscious has to be well informed, or your idea will be irrelevant. Stuff your conscious mind with information, then unhook your rational thought process. You can help this process by going for a long walk, or taking a hot bath, or drinking half a pint of claret. Suddenly, if the telephone line from your unconscious is open, a big idea wells up within you.

Page 19

'If you and your competitors all make excellent products, don't try to imply that your product is better. Just say what's good about your product - and do a clearer, more honest, more informative job of saying it.

Page 20

'Search the parks in all your cities.
You'll find no statues of committees.'

Page 24

The Benton & Bowles agency holds that 'if it doesn't sell, it isn't creative.' Amen.

Page 31

At the start of your career in advertising, what you learn is more important than what you earn.

Page 35

In your day-to-day dealings with clients and colleagues, fight for the king, queens and bishops, but throw away the pawns. A habit of graceful surrender on trivial issues will make you difficult to resist when you stand and fight on a major issue.

Page 42

[on applying for a job]
Be personal, direct and natural
You are a human being writing to another human being. Neither of you is an institution. You should be businesslike and courteous, but never stiff and impersonal.

Page 48

Brains? It doesn't necessarily mean a high IQ. It means curiosity, common sense, wisdom, imagination and literacy. Why literacy? Because most communication between agencies and clients is in writing. I don't suggest that you have to be a poet, but you won't climb the ladder very high unless you can write lucid memoranda.

Page 60

Above all, listen. The more you get the prospective client to talk, the easier it will be to decide whether you really want his account. A former head of Magnavox treated me to a two-hour lecture on advertising, about which he knew nothing. I gave him a cup of tea and showed him out.

Page 67

Don't keep a dog and bark yourself. Any fool can write a bad advertisement, but it takes a genius to keep his hands off a good one.

Page 71

On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy. It follows that unless your headline sells your product, you have wasted 90 per cent of your money.

The headlines which work best are those which promise the reader a benefit - like a whiter wash, more miles per gallon, freedom from pimples, fewer cavities. Riffle through a magazine and count the number of ads whose headlines promise a benefit of any kind.

Headlines which contain news are sure-fire. The news can be the announcement of a new product, an improvement in an old product, or a new way to use an old product - like serving Campbells' Soup on the rocks. On the average, ads with news are recalled by 22 per cent more people than ads without news.

Page 80

Do not, however, address your readers as though they were gathered together in a stadium. When people read your copy, they are alone. Pretend you are writing each of them a letter on behalf of your client. One human being to another, second person singular.

Page 138

Some copywriters, assuming that the reader will find the product as boring as they do, try to inveigle him into their ads with pictures of babies, beagles and bosoms. This is a mistake. A buyer of flexible pipe for offshore oil rigs is more interested in pipe than anything else in the world. So play it straight.

Page 144

Next to the positioning of your product, the most important variables to be tested are pricing, terms of payment, premiums and the format of your [direct] mailing.

Page 161

Keep in mind E. B. White's warning, 'When you say something, make sure you have said it. The chances of your having said it are only fair.'

Page 163

What price should you charge for your product? This is one of the most important questions which confront marketers, but, as far as I know, research cannot answer it.

Page 170

It is usually assumed that marketers use scientific methods to determine the price of their products. Nothing could be further from the truth. In almost every case, the process of decision is one of guesswork.

The higher you price your product, the more desirable it becomes in the eyes of the consumer. Yet when Professor Reisz of the University of Iowa tried to relate the prices of 679 brands of food products to their quality, he found that the correlation between quality and price was almost zero.

Page 202

[quoting ad-man Leo Burnett]

'Bug let me tell you when I might demand that you take my name off the door. That will be the day when you spend more time trying to make money and less time making advertising.

'When your main interest becomes a matter of size just to be big, rather than good, hard, wonderful work.'

Page 215

Billboards represent less than 2 per cent of total advertising in the United States. I cannot believe that the free-enterprise system would be irreparably damaged if they were abolished. Who is in favor of them? Only the people who make money out of them.

Posted by Adrian at January 2, 2017 05:03 PM | TrackBack

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Thanks - I want to read it now.

Also 'Bug'.

Posted by: Jeff Veit at January 4, 2017 08:03 PM
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