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#306 David Ogilvy (Confessions of an Advertising Man)
June 5th, 2023 | E306

What I learned from reading Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy. 


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(4:15) When Fortune published an article about me and titled it: "Is David Ogilvy a Genius?," I asked my lawyer to sue the editor for the question mark.

(4:45) The people who built the companies for which America is famous, all worked obsessively to create strong cultures within their organizations. Companies that have cultivated their individual identities by shaping values, making heroes, spelling out rites and rituals, and acknowledging the cultural network, have an edge

(5:30) We prefer the discipline of knowledge to the anarchy of ignorance. We pursue knowledge the way a pig pursues truffles. A blind pig can sometimes find truffles, but it helps to know that they grow in oak forests.

(5:48) We hire gentlemen with brains.

(6:16) Only First Class business, and that in a First Class way.

(6:25) Search all the parks in all your cities; you'll find no statues of committees.

(9:45) Buy Ogilvy on Advertising 

(10:45) One decent editorial counts for a thousand advertisements. + You simply cannot mix your messages when selling something new. A consumer can barely handle one great new idea, let alone two, or even several. — Against the Odds: An Autobiography by James Dyson (Founders #300)

(15:22) It was inspiring to work for a supreme master. M. Pitard did not tolerate incompetence. He knew that it is demoralising for professionals to work alongside incompetent amateurs.

(16:66) You have to be ruthless if you want to build a team of A players. It's too easy, as a team grows, to put up with a few B players, and they then attract a few more B players, and soon you will even have some C players. The Macintosh experience taught me that A players like to work only with other A players, which means you can't indulge B players.

(18:12) In the best companies, promises are always kept, whatever it may cost in agony and overtime.

(18:33) I have come to the conclusion that the top man has one principal responsibility: to provide an atmosphere in which creative mavericks can do useful work.

(19:38) I admire people who work hard, who bite the bullet.

(19:58) I admire people with first class brains.

(20:23) I admire people who work with gusto. If you don't enjoy what you are doing, I beg you to find another job. Remember the Scottish proverb, "Be happy while you're living, for you're a long time dead."

(20:50) I admire self-confident professionals, the craftsmen  who do their jobs with superlative excellence.

(21:40) The best way to keep the peace is to be candid.

(23:18) That’s been the most important lesson I’ve learned in business: that the dynamic range of people dramatically exceeds things you encounter in the rest of our normal lives—and to try to find those really great people who really love what they do.  —  Make Something Wonderful: Steve Jobs in his own words. (Founders #299)

(24:39) The Man Who Sold America: The Amazing (but True!) Story of Albert D. Lasker and the Creation of the Advertising Century by Jeffrey L. Cruikshank and Arthur W. Schultz. (Founders #206)

(25:09) Claude Hopkins episodes:

My Life in Advertising by Claude Hopkins. (Founders #170)

Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins. (Founders #207)

(25:47) Talent is most likely to be found among nonconformists, dissenters, and rebels.

(26:49) The majority of business men are incapable of original thinking because they are unable to escape from the tyranny of reason. Their imaginations are blocked.

(28:21) This podcast studies formidable individuals.

(31:40) Samuel Bronfman: The Life and Times of Seagram’s Mr. Sam by Michael R. Marrus. (Founders #116)

(37:47) I doubt whether there is a single agency (or company) of any consequence which is not the lengthened shadow of one man.

(39:51) Don't bunt. Aim out of the park. Aim for the company of immortals.

(40:13) Most big corporations behave as if profit were not a function of time.

When Jerry Lambert scored his first breakthrough with Listerine, he speeded up the whole process of marketing by dividing time into months. Instead of locking himself into annual plans, Lambert reviewed his advertising and his profits every month.

The result was that he made $25,000,000 in eight years, where it takes most people twelve times as long. In Jerry Lambert's day, the Lambert Pharmaceutical Company lived by the month, instead of by the year.

(41:30) The Mind of Napoleon: A Selection of His Written and Spoken Words edited by J. Christopher Herold. (Founders #302)

(41:36) I am an inveterate brain picker, and the most rewarding brains I have picked are the brains of my predecessors and my competitors.

(43:27) We make advertisements that people want to read. You can't save souls in an empty church.

(44:05) You aren't advertising to a standing army; you are advertising to a moving parade.

(45:13) The headline is the most important element in advertisements.

(47:47) Runnin' Down a Dream: How to Succeed and Thrive in a Career You Love by Bill Gurley

(48:15) Set yourself to becoming the best-informed man in the agency on the account to which you are assigned.

If, for example, it is a gasoline account, read text books on the chemistry, geology and distribution of petroleum products. Read all the trade journals in the field. Read all the research reports and marketing plans that your agency has ever written on the product. Spend Saturday mornings in service stations, pumping gasoline and talking to motorists. Visit your client's refineries and research  laboratories. Study the advertising of his competitors. At the end of your second year, you will know more about gasoline than your boss.

Most of the young men in agencies are too lazy to do this kind of homework. They remain permanently superficial.


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