"What really decides consumers to buy or not to buy is the content of your advertising, not its form." -David Ogilvy
"Advertising is fundamentally persuasion and persuasion happens to be not a science, but an art." -Bill Bernbach
The classic argument. Two men shaped the advertising industry as we know it, and each pioneered distinctly different principles of advertising. Ogilvy, a man of words, rules and content, and Bernbach, a man of ideas, creativity, and anti-establishment. Is there a clear winner between the two? Whose ideals rang supreme?
Ogilvy was all for testing and research, while Bernbach was against research and relied on powerful and creative ideas. But after studying Ogilvy, it didn't seem he was against ideas, nor did he rely solely on research to persuade consumers. Likewise, Bernbach didn't seem to dislike research; he advocated that you can't rely on research to get a good idea.
It is true that these men were very different. Ogilvy was part of the establishment that Bernbach's creative revolution rebelled against. But there are elements of both styles that ad people can take away.
Love for Advertising
It is so disappointing to hear people in advertising who hate it. You know the types; the ones who try to say that they're in advertising or marketing without really saying it. They create corporate monikers like "change agent." Why should a brand place its image and advertising in your hands if you're scared to tell them what you really do?
Understanding Their Audience
Ogilvy wanted to take his accounts to the upscale classes, so what did he do? He used The New Yorker, the magazine that anyone who was anyone would read. Bernbach was known to instruct his people that the best advertising doesn't insult the intelligence of the consumer, so what did they do? He created smart, witty, and enjoyable pieces that hit the minds and hearts of his audiences.
Implementing a Culture
Though the cultures of the two men were different, they were each outrageously successful because they built a culture within the agencies they created. Ogilvy was structured, content-oriented, measured; Bernbach was idea-oriented, off-the-cuff, imaginative. And both stuck with what worked.
Who got it right? As you probably has guessed by now, this perspective will say that both Ogilvy and Bernbach did. But do we see the principles of Ogilvy and Bernbach in today's advertising? Is it smart, witty, creative, idea-oriented, or content-oriented?