205-223-4415 shawn@shawnwright.net

My graduation from art school coincided with the publication of David Ogilvy’s book Ogilvy on Advertising. It was a must-have book at the time and has been on my shelf ever since. The advertising landscape has changed dramatically in the years since its first publication, and it has been years since I picked up the book and read it.

This morning in my inbox was an email of recommendations from Amazon Prime. Among the books listed was Ogilvy on Advertising. It got me thinking, would anyone be able to use it today?

I had always wanted to be my own boss, so the first chapters of the book appealed to me. The chapters “How to run and advertising agency” and “How to get clients” were helpful to me even though my clients would never be Rolls-Royce, Hathaway Shirts and Schweppes.

Later chapters discuss the secrets in B2B advertising, direct mail, cause advertising, research and more. There is information that is as relevant today as it was decades ago. You see, David Ogilvy was a writer and he was focused on the story, how to convince you to buy his product or sign up for his offer. As he states in the overture, “I do not regard advertising as entertainment or an art form, but as a medium of information. When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative.’ I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.” The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The way we market to individuals is different than back in Ogilvy’s days, but the information in the book still hold up and can be applied to new ways of presenting it. I fully believe that David Ogilvy would be an inbound marketing rock star if he were alive today.

My favorite part is Chapter 20 “I predict 13 changes.” Here are a few of my favorites.

  • There will be a renaissance in print advertising
  • The clutter of commercials on television and radio will be brought under control
  • Candidates for political office will stop using dishonest advertising

Great advertising man, not so great futurist.

My recommendation is that you add this book to your reading list. Buy the book, buy a used copy if you don’t want to spend much money. If you are working at an agency, head to the office of any of the baby-boomers (yes, they still exist at agencies) and see if they have it on their shelf. Try and borrow it without being regaled with stories of the past. It’s an easy read, and there is still great information you can use.