Business Development

David Ogilvy- Confessions of an Ad Man

Holiday reading, staying in a friend’s lovely home in the green mountains north of Barcelona, Spain, I’d finished the crappy novel and trashy magazines I’d bought at the airport on the way out.  What next for my idle mind while the kids were splashing in the pool? I was ‘mooching’ in the library, and I saw the book lying there on Ronnie’s desk.  Unopened and unloved, apparently, I decided to cheer it up and give it a go.

For those of you who don’t know (and he is rather out of fashion these days) D.O. was the, Scottish raised, ‘father’ of modern advertising who ruled Madison Avenue in the US and a became the most feted, and highest earning, soap, hooch, car and airline ticket salesman for some of the biggest names in US business in the 19 50’s and 60’s.  Some believe that he’s the role-model for Don Draper, in the smash-hit TV series, ‘Mad Men‘.

The book- ‘Confessions of an advertising man’ is well written, short and highly opinionated (good thing in my view), and if you’re in business, and particularly a creative or service business, it’s worth 2 hours of your time.  My key outtakes are-

  1. On leadership- First, make yourself a reputation for being a creative genius. Second, surround yourself with partners who are better than you are. Third, leave them to go get on with it.
  2. On communicating with your audience- I don’t know the rules of grammar… If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think. We try to write in the vernacular.
  3. On getting clients- The agencies which are most successful in new business are those whose spokesmen show the most sensitive insight into the psychological make-up of the prospective client.  Rigidity and salesmanship do not combine.
  4. On focus in a message- On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.

See- Mad Men – Wikipedia

Jim Harvey

Jim Harvey

Managing Director at The Message Business
Jim is the MD of The Message Business, a company which helps FTSE 100 companies to sell themselves, and their products better. Speech writer, Prezi trainer and designer, coach and consultant, Jim also finds time to be a proud father and husband.
Jim Harvey
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