David Ogilvy

Shelby Chapman

Dr. Qingjiang Yao

Communications 128 – Mass Media In A Free Society

15 July 2011

“The Pope Of Modern Advertising”

            When you think of Advertising, you think of the big companies that lie behind their advertisements such as Frito Lays Doritos, or the classic Pepperidge Farms commercials. How often do we think of the people, or person, behind those ads? It is normally just guessed that the companies themselves make their own commercials or miscellaneous advertisements. In truth, there are more minds working up these images and slogans that we are so familiar with today. But how do these people create these advertisements that draw our attention so well? One of the leading Ad-men, David Ogilvy had become renown for his ability to find and sell the best products across the world. He had his one ways of finding out what products the public wanted, and how much they wanted it.

Ogilvy did not start out right away in advertising. Although he had scholarships paying for his schooling at Fettes College and Christ Church, Oxford, he left that all behind after only two years and moved to Paris, France to work as an apprentice chef at the Majestic Hotel. After only a year of this he returned to England and sold AGA Cookers door to door. He said that working at the Majestic taught him “Discipline, management… And when to move on.” He also said that if he had stayed there he would have faced “years of slave wages, fiendish pressure, and perpetual exhaustion.” His work with AGA Cookers was so astounding that they asked him to write a guide for AGA salesmen in 1935, which Fortune Magazine later described as “probably the best sales manual ever written.” Due to the effectiveness of that manual, Ogilvy got a job at the Mather and Crowling Advertising Agency in London, England as an account executive. In 1938 he convinced them to send him to America, where he worked George Gallups Audience Research Institute in New Jersey. He considered Gallup to be one of the major influences on his thinking. Gallup emphasized meticulous research methods and adherence to reality. (Ogilvy Bio)

During World War II Ogilvy worked with the Intelligence Service at the British Embassy in Washington. There he wrote enormously, analyzing and making recommendations on matters of diplomacy and security, and applied his knowledge of human behavior from consumerism to nationalism in a report that suggested to use the ‘Gallup technique’ on fields of secret intelligence. After World War II he bought a farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania where he and his wife lived for years, enjoying the serenity, abundance, and contentment among the Amish that lived there as well. Eventually though he gave in to the knowledge of his limitations as a farmer and moved to New York. There he founded the Advertisement Agency of Hewitt, Ogilvy, Benson, and Mather, which would later become known as simply Ogilvy and Mather, with the financial backing of the London Agency Mather and Crowther. In his agencies first twenty years he had already won assignments from three major companies, had received the entire account of Shell in North America, and became the first national advertising campaign of Sears. In 1965 Ogilvy merged his company with Mather and Crowther in London, and formed a new international company, and one year later the company went public. They were one of the first advertising firms to do so, and soon Ogilvy and Mather had expanded around the world and was firmly set in place as one of the top agencies in all regions. (Ogilvy Bio)

One of his most famous advertisement ideas was that of the Hathaway Shirt advertisement in 1951. C.F Hathaway was a small shirt company based in Waterville, Maine, and Ogilvy was on his way to a photoshoot for the company’s shirts when he stopped at a drugstore and picked up several eye patches for fifty cents each. He told the photographer “Just shoot a couple of these to humor me,” and the result? An ad featuring a slender, haughty, mysteriously one-eyed male model in a white dress shirt accompanied by a lengthy description of the shirts benefits, that soon appeared in the New Yorker. This intrigued American men, and soon C.F Hathaway’s sales skyrocketed and the entire stock sold out. “The Man In The Hathaway Shirt” made Ogilvy famous and became a national sensation. This epitomized what would soon become known as Ogilvy’s trademark approach, which was stylish, alluring print ads that spoke directly about the product and its benefits. (Helm)

In an interview on the David Susskind show when he was 72 years old, Ogilvy told Susskind all about his experiences during his long career. Ogilvy indeed was the first man to take polls on the movie going industry. He found out which actors and actresses were famous, which were popular to the moviegoers, and which were simply over publicized, and he actually wrote an article over which actors and actresses kept people away from the Cinema. He admits that by doing so, he probably ruined a few people, but he did not give out names during the interview. David Susskind referred to Ogilvy as “the most famous adman in the world,” and “the pope of modern advertising.” When asked how he got to be a legend, Ogilvy joking replied; “You know how you get to be a legend? You outlive all your competitors.” Susskind, and most likely the audience watching the show, knew this to be untrue as to how he was a legend, and so Susskind delved a little deeper by asking how he became a young legend. Ogilvy replied that one reason was that Americans had been skeptical about his knowledge. They asked him how he knew about advertising, because he was Scottish and that was not part of the Scottish genius. In fact, he knew more than they did and said that being Scottish actually gave him an advantage, in more ways than one. “There are so many advertising agents, how do you differentiate yours? But if you have a Scottish accent in helps,” he commented. (Susskind)

He also gave a lot of good advice during this interview. “The more you know a product, the better chance you have of coming up with a way to sell it,” he told Susskind, explaining that he had spent several days researching for Rolls Royce when he had been assigned a job to create an advertisement for their cars. There were stacks and stacks of paperwork detailing the cars and their features, and he studied all of the papers to make sure he knew and understood the product as well as he could. He also commented that “big ideas come from the subconscious. You can not get a big idea from rational thought,” and explained that when he had been trying to come up with an idea for a Pepperidge Farms commercial to advertise their bread, he had indeed dreamt of the old man in the horse drawn wagon with Pepperidge Farms logo on it. He said it gave the sense that this product was not something that made you think it was made in a factory, or in mass production, but that it could remind you of that good home cooked taste that you once had experienced in your grandmothers house. (Susskind)

David Ogilvy retired in 1973 at the age of 62, stepping down from the position as Chairman at Ogilvy and Mather. He moved to Touffou, his luxurious estate in France for seven years, simply enjoying the serenity of the countryside. In the 1980’s though he came out of retirement and went back to work as the chairman at Ogilvy and Mathers India branch, although he did not stay there long. Not content with that branch, he spent a year as temporary chairman at the German branch. In 1989 the Ogilvy group was bought by WPP, owned by Sir Martin Sorrell, and made WPP the worlds largest marketing communications firm. Ogilvy was named non-executive chairman, a position which he held for three years. David Mackenzie Ogilvy died on July 21st of 1999 at the age of 88. He is still the most famous name in advertising, and many of his ads have stood the test of time. (About)

Works Cited

David Ogilvy Biography. http://www.Ogilvy.com. Web. 15 July 2011. <http://www.ogilvy.com/About/Our-History/David-Ogilvy-Bio.aspx&gt;

The Life And Work Of David Ogilvy. http://www.About.com. Web. 15 July 2011. <http://advertising.about.com/od/profiles/p/David-Ogilvy-Cbe.htm&gt;

The David Susskind Show: The Pope Of Modern Advertising: David Ogilvy. http://www.Hulu.com. Web. 15 July 2011. <http://www.hulu.com/watch/46488/the-david-susskind-show-the-pope-of-modern-advertising-david-ogilvy&gt;

The Rise And Fall Of David Ogilvy. Burt Helm. Bloomberg Business Week. http://www.BusinessWeek.com. Web. 15 July 2011. <http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/09_03/b4116061957864.htm&gt;

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About srchapman2

I am 21, hated, loved, and just trying to live my life the best that I can. I am a student at Fort Hays State University in Hays, KS, majoring in English, Writing concentration with a minor in Journalism. I am hoping to go into publishing and editing after or during college. Reading and writing are and have always been my passions, and I can not imagine pursuing any career that does not focus on one or both.
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7 Responses to David Ogilvy

  1. stephswitzky says:

    Nice job, Shelby! I am jealous that you got to write about Ogilvy. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I spent the first part of my summer watching the first three seasons of MadMen. (I am waiting on the library to notify me that the fourth is available for pick up!) Watching that show has made me very intrigued with advertising.

    You asked at the beginning whether we think of the minds that are behind the ads and I have to admit, i actually do…and I am just a laymen. I have no experience or education in advertising, but I am fascinated by what sells and how it sells.

    Just like Don Draper, I think that Ogilvy was a master at understanding the human psyche. I think all major advertisers have to consider how the human brain works and all of the differnet conditions that make a difference to different people. Why did I buy an iPad? I didn’t buy it because I saw it was for sale on some apple commercial, but I did buy it because I saw a commercial that showed me that i needed it for the apps adn the convienience, etc. The music is catchy, too.

  2. ashley says:

    I knew Ogilvy’s name, being an advertising major, but had no idea what so ever that he was Scottish. This, as Ogilvy himself said, probably gave him a very firm advantage over other advertisers who grew up with traditional American advertising. People that do not have a fresh view on what they are advertising would not think outside the norm. Meaning subconsciously they already have embedded in their memories how they think they should advertise something, from years of exposure to the ads around them. Ogilvy had that coming from a culturally different background.

    I see advertising kind of like an art mixed with magic. You have to find what other people won’t see, make them see what you see, and well make them believe your illusion or setting that had been created. As said above many advertisers abuse this power and ultimately fool and false advertise their products to their viewers. He was obviously passionate and dedicated to his ability, doing research on every product to enhance and display his product to the best of his ability.

    I respect how Ogilvy built himself from the ground up. By doing this he gained discipline and experience from every angle of the profession. Finding what the masses wanted to see and feel about certain products was something he was good at and he did it in an honest and educated manner, which obviously paid off in the long run. Very good paper, it was pleasant to read.

  3. vegavin says:

    I like this. I needed this. I’m an advertising major, as well, and after hearing negative comments at a reunion it’s nice to finally refuel my fire. 🙂 Thank you for that.

    More importantly, I find this extremely interesting. As you stated, all of his greatness started out in a cooking school where he learned the qualities he needed to improve upon to succeed as he did: discipline, management, and “when to move on”. It goes to show that every experience is one to learn something from; no committment is invaluable and that there’s something to take from however insignificant an event may seem. IF that makes any sense. Catch my drifty drift?

    Also, I think I may do some ‘looking-in-to’ the Hathaway Advertisement with the eye patches. Did the patches have any significance? Or were they something completely different that really drew in the audience’s eye (pun intended)?

    I really found this man very intriguing and will probably do a little research of my own. Thanks for the inspiration. Well-written 🙂

  4. This was actually very interesting. I have never heard of David Ogilvy, but (just like most of these papers) have definitely heard of his work and some of the practices and fundamentals of advertising and consumer research he developed, like the Gallops poll. You would think that something as simple and obvious as doing population surveys, consumer analysis, and product desirability would be involved with advertising from its beginning, but I guess you could say that, prior to Ogilvy, advertising was ineffective and unreliable.

    Would this make Ogilvy a famous and successful advertiser? Or would it make him a pioneer of modern advertising?

  5. Natalie Fisher says:

    Shelby i really enjoyed your paper. I learned a lot, and some i new about advertising. Its weird but i am one of the people that think about what it takes to make a commercial like that and what all goes behind the commercial. I had never heard about Ogilvy but had heard about his work and some of the things that he was famous for. I guess i always just assumed that advertising was around but this paper has shown me and taught me a lot about advertising. Advertising is what makes or breaks a lot of businesses and i feel as if you did a good job and describing Ogilvy and his work!

  6. rabovaird80 says:

    Did anyone else start thinking about the Mel Gibson film “What Women Want” while reading this paper?

    The info on this man really gets me asking the question, should the consumer really care about the men / women behind the advertisements? The very nature of an ad is to draw attention to the products, to get the consumer to desire the product enough so that they will purchase it. Advertisements are propaganda meant to spread the desire for a certain product. In its purest sense, propaganda is not meant to glorify the propagandist, but to glorify the idea being propagated. The propagandist is supposed to be the “wizard behind the curtain.”

    The odd thing is that in today’s world, art and advertising are now fused together, as you’ve pointed out with your research on Ogilvy. Artists are justified in desiring attention for their creations. The consumer of any art medium should concern him/herself with the artist. The human being behind the art is important.

    I got the impression that Ogilvy was more of a businessman with a keen grasp on humanity and a unique and creative sense of humor. These traits, coupled with the right circumstances, allowed him to become a legend. From the passages quoted, he seems like a humble man who did his job in effectively advertising his clients’ products, not like a vainglorious artist demanding attention for his creations. I don’t mean to belittle artists, but we can all easily identify at least one artist in today’s world who is so caught up in his/her image and reputation than in the actual artistic process. These minority artists — as most artists are not like this — stand out enough to firmly establish stereotypes in our minds.

  7. qzhaoqi says:

    After reading the whole article of David Ogilvy, I came to realize a few things about him.
    Firstly, David Ogilvy abandoned many schlorships towards some famous university because he insisted on his own dreams. Every person in their whole life should study like him. We shouldn’t be tangled with much affluent materials and we should insist on our ortginal dreams.
    Secondly, in the interview of David Ogilvy, he refered that “if you want to create a perfect advertisement you must understand a product well.” In terms of this point, we come to realize that the successful strategy to create an advertisement is to characterize the product of one certain company.
    Finally, he also said that “one person should outlive his competitors.” This kind of words enable me to remind that the winners of some Nobel Prize. Most of people can’t get the Nobel Prize because they didn’t live long enought to get the prize, so one person should outlive his competitors.

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