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.
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.
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.
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.
'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.
You'll find no statues of committees.'
The Benton & Bowles agency holds that 'if it doesn't sell, it isn't creative.' Amen.
At the start of your career in advertising, what you learn is more important than what you earn.
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.
[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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.'
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.
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.
[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.'
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
This blog post is on the personal blog of Adrian McEwen. If you want to explore the site a bit further, it might be worth having a look at the most recent entries or look through the archives or categories over on the left.
If you want to hire my company to help you with the Internet of Things then get in touch. If you want to learn more about the Internet of Things, then buy my book Designing the Internet of Things (amazon.co.uk amazon.com).