23 September 2010

Ogilvy Style

After leaving Oxford without taking a degree, David Ogilvy (1911-1999) worked as (in his own words) "a cook, a salesman, a diplomatist and a farmer" before going into the advertising business at age 38.

At the time, he said, he knew "nothing about marketing and had never written any copy." And yet he later managed to build the company he founded, Ogilvy & Mather, into one of the world's most successful advertising firms.

He was a master copywriter and his campaigns for Hathaway Shirts ("The man in the Hathaway shirt") and Schweppes ("Schweppervescence") are classics. His books on advertising are still studied today.

Ogilvy represents the true advertising tradition, not the Hollywood version portrayed in the current American televisual programme Mad Men, a silly fictionalised account written by the very Noo Yawk hipsters whose fathers and grandfathers displaced the Madison Avenue elite in the first place.

In the photograph (above), lifted from the cover of his autobiography Blood, Brains, & Beer, Ogilvy is pictured wearing a Brooks Brothers khaki suit with a 3/2 roll and a repp tie. He holds a pair of tortoiseshell spectacles. In other photographs from the period he is depicted wearing a tweed jacket and smoking a pipe.

Pay attention to his haircut: his hair does not creep forward in sideburn form, nor does it cover his ears. Study the photographs and note the way he parts his hair on the right, widely recognised as a mark of creative genius.


Belle de Ville said...

Love the hair part.
We just put together our first print ad here at the HQ. We know nothing about advertising too. Perhaps we will become marketing geniuses like Ogilvy.

A.E.F. said...

Admiral - I like the British approach to marketing: have an outstanding product and don't bother to do much else. I work for an British company that makes an outstanding product and doesn't bother to do much else and we're doing quite all right. We could do a hell of a lot better but then that wouldn't be terribly British.

Tabitha said...

Oh goodness AEF. I think you just described why I've always held myself back in life! Oh to be a more thrusting American.

WerewolfinExile said...

Genius manifests in the most unexpected of times and places. Ogilvy himself is a timeless classic and man worthy of legend.

initials CG said...

Thanks! Did not know that about Ogilvy. Nice to see he was consistently well dressed over time too.