The Madison Avenue Marketing Master – A Review of “Ogilvy On Advertising” by David Ogilvy

This is the kind of advertising book where you get so much valuable information and insights, you’ll feel like you could  get right up and make a successful ad even before you finish reading the book!

David Ogilvy’s “Ogilvy On Advertising” is a must read for anyone looking for the most important and useful guidelines in advertising, copywriting, commercials, radio ads, and pretty much any other medium around in the 1980’s (internet wasn’t used for ads, but his insights apply to online business as well).

The book is also entertaining on its own, with samples of various ads that he and others have created and how successful they have been in increasing sales for their products, and with descriptions on how he did it. Those alone are worth at least 50 times the price of the book!

There’s so much good information in each page that I don’t even know where to start. Don’t get me wrong though, Ogilvy wasn’t much for rules, but more for guidelines and principles that applied in various ways to each type of ad he created.

He talks about how important researching the product and its target market is for making ads that sell, how you must lead with benefits of your product/service only (the most important point in his book he claims), very cheap ways to measure response rates using split run ads, how to run an ad agency or apply to work for one, how to get and please your clients, how and when to appeal to culture of your ad’s target market versus appealing to innate, unconditional human nature and instincts, how the use of sex, cleverness, and obscurity is limited in advertising, and much much more.

Perhaps one of the most profound lines of thought throughout the book is when he talks about print advertising. It’s like a magician revealing his most valuable secrets from his years running Ogilvy & Mather, his agency.

For print advertising, he instructs that long copy often sells better than fewer words or short copy (very against the conventional thought today), that people want to read more benefits intertwined with a relevant story about your product, that his detest for white print on black background is backed by sales and response numbers for countless ads, that positioning for any ad of any type of medium is defined as “What the product does, and who is it for” (an insight worth its weight in gold) and much much more.

I kept getting the feeling while reading the book that if I applied Ogilvy’s guidelines and principles (including honesty, specific benefits, clean & organized print, just to name a few) to my ads and business, I could be head and shoulders above most advertisers of any stripe today. I’ve already used many of his principles to great success in my ads, but now I’m excited to apply the rest of them.

But if you’re still skeptical about this man’s proof of advice, why not read a little more about him to understand why he was dubbed the King of Madison Avenue

I have no doubt that any marketer can and will benefit tremendously from this book, written by a man of outstanding humility and generosity, shown clearly when he gave his employees a doll gift with a note saying,

“If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we we shall become a company of dwarfs, but if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, Ogilvy & Mather will become a company of giants”

No doubt he gave as much to his clients and their customers 🙂