|Ogilvy on Advertising
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
"Promise, large promise, is the soul of an advertisement." -Samuel Johnson.
That quote was just one of the many takeaways in the interview with David Ogilvy when he appeared on the David Susskind Show while promoting his second book, Ogilvy on Advertising. The hour-long interview was full of wit, wisdom, and name-dropping, along with Ogilvy's famed brashness and dry humor. When I stumbled upon it on TV Guide, I couldn't help but watch the interview in its entirety. Susskind and his producer titled the show after Ogilvy's nickname, "The Pope of Modern Advertising." It seems a little exaggerated, but after watching the interview, one could at least understand why such a title was thrown at him.
"People like to watch themselves...they identify better with people like them."
Before Ogilvy started his legendary career as an AdMan, he honed his love of research, homework, and surveys in Hollywood. In the interview, he spoke about the perceptions producers and directors in the Hollywood industry carried around them, and how he thought they were wrong. The common thought was that men went to the movies to see pretty women, and women went to see handsome men. Ogilvy's research proved just the opposite; men went to films to watch men, and women did so to watch women. Ogilvy explained to the Hollywood folks that people liked to watch things and people they could relate to.
"There is an art to writing a survey."
Ogilvy talked about a time where he was out at a train station and a young woman came up to him to ask him a few questions. He thought the survey was "horrid" and, after a second glance at it, he saw that it was a survey that he himself had made earlier that week. He said that he went right back into the office and tore it apart. Much like today, in order to get the most accurate responses, you have to write a good survey. And if it is not a good one, don't hesitate to change it.
"Most people have 20 big ideas in their lifetime."
I thought this topic to be very interesting. Ogilvy went into detail about the Man in a Hathaway Shirt, Scheppes, Pepperidge Farms, and Rolls Royce accounts and the ideas he and his crew had for them. Even though they were big ideas and he enjoyed the thought of them, he tested each idea before jumping out on a limb. With Hathaway, Ogilvy spoke about going to a store and buying an eye patch for five cents. He went to the shoot and told the photographer to humor him and have the model put the eye patch on, and see how it looked. Twenty-some years later, the ad was still running. Another quip Ogilvy had in this section touched on longevity. He thought that people changed advertising too often. If he thought that then, he probably couldn't tolerate today's advertising environment. Ogilvy had a point; the business cannot develop a personality if the advertising changes too quickly. People cannot relate to a brand if it constantly changes its message.
"It pays to give most products a first-class ticket."
Ogilvy was referring to the type of ad creative one should do for businesses. He remarked that if you are afraid to show your friends or family the ad you created, or if your friends do not want to be seen with you because of what you're responsible for, then it is not the kind of advertising he advocated. Ogilvy assumed that the consumer was intelligent and female (it still rings true that women are the biggest consumers) and it would be a dishonor to talk down to them. Treating them as if they are intelligent will never be seen as insulting their intelligence. "Don't sing to your consumer, talk to them," David said in the interview.
"I bullied people to do good advertising. I never bullied the consumer."
All in all, it was a terrific interview to watch, and the chemistry between Susskind and Ogilvy was enjoyable. I'll leave you with a Carnation Milk Ad that Ogilvy said was one of the best pieces of copy he had seen. I hope you watch the interview and tell us your thoughts.
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