OGILVY IN HIS OWN WORDS: Memos, anecdotes, quips and marketing plans - Francesca Newland picks quotes from half a century of writing and recollection

From a marketing plan David Ogilvy wrote in 1936: ’Facetiousness in advertising is a device dear to the amateur but anathema to the advertising agent, who knows that permanent success has rarely been built on frivolity and that people do not buy from clowns.’

From a marketing plan David Ogilvy wrote in 1936: ’Facetiousness in

advertising is a device dear to the amateur but anathema to the

advertising agent, who knows that permanent success has rarely been

built on frivolity and that people do not buy from clowns.’



It continued: ’Apparent monotony of treatment must be tolerated, because

only the manufacturer reads all his own advertisements.’



Ogilvy & Mather has also been shaped by Ogilvy’s success in new

business.



From a speech to American Express in 1981: ’The man who was then

president of our agency thought I was nuts to take your account. He said

it was too small - about a million bucks, which had to cover cheques,

cards, and travel. He told me, ’Jesus Christ could perform a miracle by

feeding the multitude with three loaves and two small fishes, but you

ain’t Jesus Christ.’ ... So I waited for our president to go on

vacation, and then signed up ...’



A rookie head of marketing for Magnet kitchens decided to gee up on his

advertising knowledge and read Ogilvy on Advertising. He was so

impressed he rushed to Ogilvy’s Poitiers chateau and pleaded with him to

accept the account. Ogilvy obliged.



From Ogilvy on Advertising: ’One afternoon, a man walked into my office

without an appointment and gave me the IBM account; he knew our

work.’



Note to Shelly Lazarus in 1994: ’I cannot over-emphasise the importance

of making Ogilvy & Mather different, hot, famous and fashionable

again’



From The Theory & Practice of Selling the Aga Cooker, written in 1935:

’In general, study the methods of your competitors and do the exact

opposite.’ He added: ’Pepper your talk with anecdotes and jokes.

Accumulate a repertoire of illusion. Above all, laugh till you cry every

time the prospect makes jokes about the Aga Khan.’



To Ken Brady, former head of Ogilvy & Mather, Jakarta: ’Develop your

eccentricities while you’re young. That way, when you get old, people

won’t think you’re going gaga.’



Ogilvy was famous for his memos. David Abbott, whose early years were at

Mather Crowther, says: ’He was the best writer of internal memos. You

really worked for one of his memos praising you to land on his

desk.’



From a memo to the board, 1971: ’Ogilvy & Mather must have ’gentlemen

with brains’ ... To compromise with this principle sometimes looks

expedient, short term. But it can never do Ogilvy & Mather any permanent

good. ... P.S. By ’gentlemen’ I do not, of course, mean Old Etonians and

all that.’



Memo to the board, from 1978, called A Teaching Hospital: ’I have a new

metaphor. Great hospitals do two things: they look after patients, and

they teach young doctors. Ogilvy & Mather does two things: we look after

clients, and we teach young advertising people. Ogilvy & Mather is the

teaching hospital of the advertising world. And, as such, to be

respected above all other agencies. I prefer this to Stanley Resor’s old

saying that J. Walter Thompson was a ’university of advertising’.’



To all agency bosses and creative heads, 1977: ’For many years you heard

me inveigh against ’entertainment’ in TV commercials and ’cleverness’ in

print advertising. When the advertising world went on a ’creative’ binge

in the late 1960s, I denounced award-winners as lunatics. Then I started

the David Ogilvy Award - for the campaign which produced the biggest

increase in sales.’



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