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David Ogilvy – Your Invisible Mentor
Name: David Ogilvy
Birth Date: June 23, 1911 – July 21, 1999
Job Functions: Advertising Executive
Known For: “The Man in the Hathaway Shirt”
David Ogilvy was a creative genius who revolutionized the American advertising industry. What factors contributed to Ogilvy’s phenomenal success? His ad, “The Man in the Hathaway Shirt” created a sensation because the model wore an eye patch which added mystique and sophistication. What can we learn from David Ogilvy that we can apply now? This mini biography takes a brief look at his background.
Application of David Ogilvy’s Ideas That Matter – Leaders Developing Leaders
- Discover ways to elevate your field/industry.
- Do not wait for the economy to experience an upswing before you begin your project.
- Expose yourself to many disciplines to become more creative.
David Ogilvy’s Steps to Success
- David Ogilvy won a history scholarship to Oxford but dropped out in 1931.
- Spent a year as an apprentice chef at the Hotel Majestic in Paris, where his first assignment was to prepare meals for clients’ dogs.
- Returned to Britain and became a door-to-door salesman selling stoves.
- Was so successful that his employer asked him to write a sales manual for the other workers.
- In 1935, Ogilvy got a job at advertising firm Mather & Crowther in London and was promoted to managing director after just two years.
- In 1938, he took a sabbatical and traveled to the United States, where he worked with George Gallup at the Audience Research Institute.
- Quit his job in London and stayed on with Gallup.
- During the 400 public opinion polls he helped to administer, he learned American tastes, which was a major influence in his life.
- From 1942 to 1944, during World War II, Ogilvy served in British Intelligence in the United States to collect economic intelligence from Latin America and to prevent the “enemy’s” access to strategic materials there.
- From 1944 to 1945, was second secretary at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C.
- Moved to Pennsylvania and farmed tobacco for a few years.
- With financial assistance from Mather & Crowther in London, Ogilvy established his own advertising firm, Hewitt, Ogilvy, Benson & Mather.
- Shortly thereafter, he secured the account for Hathaway, a small apparel company out of Maine that wanted to promote a line of men’s shirts.
- Created the “The Man in the Hathaway Shirt” campaign, which featured a man with an eye patch wearing the shirt – creating an air of mystique and sophistication.
- The company’s shirt sales soared.
- Ogilvy broke the mold, and revolutionized the advertising industry at a time when ads were dull and repetitive.
- Other successful ad campaigns included Schweppes tonic water and Rolls-Royce.
- In 1964, Ogilvy’s agency merged with Mather & Crowther to become Ogilvy & Mather.
- Retired to France in 1973, but continued to remain in close contact with the agency.
- In 1989, the British holding company WPP bought Ogilvy & Mather.
- In 1990, David Ogilvy received one of France’s most prestigious honors when he was named to the nation’s Ordre des Arts and Lettres.
- World Wildlife Fund
- The United Negro College Fund
- New York Philharmonic
Biggest Accomplishments/Why David Ogilvy’s Contribution Matters
- Creatively revolutionized the advertising industry with “The Man in the Hathaway Shirt” campaign, which featured a man with an eye patch wearing the shirt, and the Schweppes tonic water campaign, which featured Commander Edward Whitehead, an unmistakably British gentleman with a full beard. The beard and eye patch were exotic at the time.
- Ability to move consumers with his words – “At sixty miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock”. Ogilvy doubled the Rolls-Royce’s American sales with this campaign.
Lessons from David Ogilvy
- Despite the Great Depression, David Ogilvy was able to attain professional success.
- Although he had no previous copywriting experience when he founded his advertising agency, he had a great flair for language and a strong visual sense.
- Criticized the advertising industry and reminded other advertising executives to remember that their main mission was to sell products. They often focused on being too “creative.”
- Ogilvy had a diverse background which enabled him to be very creative – salesman, social worker, diplomat, tobacco farmer, pollster and ad man.
Books by David Ogilvy
- Confessions of an Advertising Man, Atheneum (New York City), 1963, revised edition, 1987.
- Blood, Brains & Beer: The Autobiography of David Ogilvy, Atheneum, 1978.
- Ogilvy on Advertising, Vintage Books (New York City), 1983.
- The Unpublished David Ogilvy, edited by Joel Raphaelson, Crown (New York City), 1986.
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Encyclopedia of World Biography