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by David Ogilvy

This book is a crash course in advertising agency life from the 1950s to 1980s with tons of useful advice for people looking to build advertising campaigns that sell.

If you've seen the show Mad Men, than you'll understand when I say that Don Draper was based on David Ogilvy. Ogilvy was so talented, that Stanley Resor from J. Walter Thompson at one time tried to buy Ogilvy's agency (Ogilvy & Mather), just for Ogilvy, and then layoff the remaining 100 employees. As Ogilvy put it, "that would be like buying a library just for one single book."

However, unlike the alcoholic and self-loathing Draper, Ogilvy was an intellectual giant who consumed every bit of information he could with regard to an industry he was charged with advertising to.

If Draper stepped from the bar and onto the baseball field to play, Ogilvy stepped from the batting cages instead, spending enough time in there to perfect his swing resulting in a monumental batting average come game day.

Ogilvy's genius was in his research-based approach that dared to be different. For example, his associates gave him hell over an American print ad he wished to run where the headline was written in French. The ad turned out to be a huge success.

 

 

Without losing his breath, Ogilvy admonished billboards as air pollution, and political advertising he deemed as outright dishonest, and a violation of standards ad men like him were held to then, and now. He doesn't hesitate flaunting his the immense fortune he made in advertising, nor does he hesitate naming those advertising people he describes as "giants", while describing their strengths, weaknesses and level of success.

Among the ocean of tangible advice Ogivly gives is:

  • "If each of us hires people who are smaller than we, we shall become a company of dwarfs, but if each of us hires people who are bigger than we, Ogilvy & Mather will become a company of giants."
  • "Testimonials work well when they come from recognized experts in well-known companies."
  • "Headlines get five times the readership of the body copy. If your headline doesn't sell, you have wasted your money."
  • With regard to 32% of beer-drinkers accounting for 80% of beer sales, and 33% of laxative users accounting for 80% of laxative sales: "In everything you do, keep your eye glued to the heavy users. They are unlike occasional users in their motivations."
  • "Agencies are seldom for sale unless they are in some kind of trouble."
  • "Long copy always sells better then short copy."
  • "I have always tried to hire what J.P. Morgan called "gentlemen with brains."
  • "Nobody should be allowed to have anything to do with advertising until he has read this book (Scientific Advertising, by Claude Hopkins) seven times. It changed the course of my life."
  • "If it doesn't sell, it isn't creative."
  • "Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals."

This book is both entertaining and easy to read. I finished it in 2 nights, and very much enjoyed Ogilvy's writing style. It's almost as if he is speaking directly to you (I love books like that.)

Frankly, this book should be in the library of anyone even considering advertising for themselves, or their client. This book is to advertising what Euclid's Elements was to mathematics.

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Don't compete — DOMINATE.

 

Matt Steffen

"Don't compete -- DOMINATE!"

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