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Book Review: Ogilvy on Advertising

Ogilvy on Advertising
Author: David Ogilvy
Paperback: 224 pages, $24.95
Published: 1983

Ogilvy on Advertising is the textbook on advertising. It covers everything from how to get a job in advertising, to running an ad agency, to advertising in foreign markets and what the future holds in advertising. I don’t know where to begin a review of this. The best element in this book is the extensive use of full-color examples. I love this. And even better Ogilvy goes further by explaining why each worked or didn’t. It’s a beautifully done book even though it is somewhat overwhelming.

The first chapter explains what you need to do to write advertising that sells, after all that’s the purpose right? Ogilvy’s first point is maybe the most important tip: Do Your Homework. You can’t write compelling sales copy if you don’t know what you’re writing about. Beyond this you can’t address an audience you haven’t taken the time to get to know and you can’t serve a client you don’t understand.

Secondly, he mentions Positioning. Not where the product appears on the page, but rather what it is. What does the product do for those who buy it or better yet, what can it do for those who haven’t bought it yet? Hand in hand with this is Brand Image. What is the product’s personality? All ads for this product should support this identity just as the voice throughout a web page or book should not be changing constantly. If the voice or images changes, you risk losing a faithful following.

Next, Invent Big Ideas. You need something spectacular or unusual to attract the consumer, to make them stop flipping through the magazine ads. To stop them dead in their tracks. Ogilvy mentions five questions that will ensure you have the wow effect:

  • Did it make me gasp when I first saw it?
  • Do I wish I had thought of it myself?
  • Is it unique?
  • Does it fit the strategy to perfection?
  • Could it be used for 30 years?

I’ll leave y’all to digest this and continue my review next week.

P.S. Yeah, I said y’all and according to wikipedia this is the correct spelling too.

Stoney G deGeyter

Stoney deGeyter is the author of The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!. He is the founder and CEO of Pole Position Marketing, a web presence optimization firm whose pit crew has been velocitizing websites since 1998. In his free time Stoney gets involved in community services and ministries with his “bride enjoy” and his children. Read Stoney’s full bio.

4 Responses to Book Review: Ogilvy on Advertising

  1. Stoney, this is a great book. I read it about 3 years ago and really liked the illustration (especially those old ads).

    Did you see the Rolls Royce ad he wrote?

    “At 60 miles per hour the loudest sound you’ll hear is the electric clock on the dashboard”

    Brilliant !

  2. Katie Cummings says:

    It’s Katie actually. You’ll see that ad next Friday when I continue on with this book review. There, I’ll explain why this headline works.

  3. Katie Cummings says:

    Don’t worry about it. What can I say Stoney is an influential person. Keep an eye out for the rest of the Ogilvy on Advertising book review next week. It goes over the real meat of the book.