David Ogilvy founded his own advertising agency in 1949 after working as a salesman, copywriter, and adman for years. His agency became one of the world’s most successful, and in 1985, he wrote Ogilvy on Advertising, a comprehensive guide to marketing, creating effective ads, and the industry as a whole.
Marketing and Product Development
To increase sales, good products are crucial. Research is important to determine preferences for smells, colors, flavors, features, and packaging. Quality improvement, balancing convention and novelty, and an appropriate price with promotions can also help. A memorable name and successful launch are key. Focus on successes and convince consumers to try the product.
The Craft of Advertising
Advertising aims to increase profit by attracting new customers or encouraging existing customers to buy more. Effective advertising can significantly boost sales, even for products that already sell well. To create good ads, follow these steps:
- Learn about the product to generate associations and potential benefits.
- Study competitor’s ads, particularly direct-response ads.
- Use research to understand your target audience, product promise, promotions, and media.
- Choose a brand image.
- By researching and allowing your mind to naturally make connections, you may come up with grand, timeless concepts.
- Spotlight the product and make it the star, even if it’s not unique.
- Stay away from committee work. The final advertisement frequently says nothing significant since committees frequently confuse issues and demand compromise.
Print ads are ads in magazines, newspapers or on posters. There are five key elements to consider when creating a print ad: headline, imagery, copy, coupon, and layout.
- A great headline is essential as most people read only the headline.
- Effective imagery makes the reader curious or tells a story.
- Good copy should use the second person, be simple, interesting and specific, and include a story or consumer testimonials.
- Coupons should contain a small image, the promise, and the brand name.
- The layout should be easy to read and resemble an editorial page to increase readership.
TV advertising is about commercials and there are six key elements to consider when creating them. These include the structure, the brand and product name, visuals, sound, supers (text overlaid on the video), and costs.
Effective commercials have a “slice of life” structure, feature unusual characters, and are funny, sentimental, fact-based, or newsworthy. It’s important to mention the brand name early and often, show someone using the product, and show the product and packaging at the end.
Use sound effects and avoid voiceovers, and add supers to reiterate your message. Finally, reduce costs by cutting unnecessary complications.
When the book was published, radio advertising only accounted for 6% of U.S. advertising and its effectiveness was difficult to measure. Based on a pilot study and his own observations, Ogilvy offers five tips for creating effective radio ads:
- Capture people’s attention with surprises, humor, or charm.
- Speak to the audience in a conversational manner.
- Mention the brand name and promise early in the commercial.
- Repeat the brand name and promise throughout the commercial.
- Create multiple commercials to avoid listener annoyance and maximize exposure.
Specific Types of Advertising
There are challenges specific to certain types of products, services, and companies, including:
- Corporate advertising can improve a company’s reputation, recruitment efforts, and more, but requires a longer-term commitment and legislative advertising may not be considered a business expense.
- Tourism advertising involves navigating politics and stereotypes about the country being advertised.
- Cause advertising may not bring in much money, but can raise awareness and lead to successful personal solicitation.
- Commodity products lack uniqueness, so it’s best to differentiate your company rather than the product by offering lower cost, better quality, or service.
Working in Advertising
To succeed in the competitive advertising industry, one must have passion. Agency work involves various roles such as copywriters, art directors, account executives, researchers, media buyers, creative directors, and CEOs. Copywriters create written content, art directors handle visuals, account executives act as intermediaries, researchers analyze effectiveness, media departments buy ad space, creative directors oversee production, and CEOs manage and attract clients.
Running an Advertising Agency
To run a successful agency, you need: talented and skilled staff, a solid understanding of office politics, high standards of conduct, a payment system, good investments, and clients.
- To ensure a talented staff, recruit people smarter than you and with different talents.
- To avoid politics, fire the worst offenders and organize team-building activities. Set high standards of conduct, including client confidentiality and only using clients’ products.
- Choose a payment system that suits your agency. Good investments include opening new offices or purchasing your office building.
- Attract new clients by producing good advertising for existing clients, and use successful work to show potential clients.
To attract new clients, Ogilvy recommends the following:
- Give presentations to convince clients to hire your agency, and send a follow-up letter summarizing why they should choose you.
- Advertise your agency through direct mail or consistent space advertising.
- Sign up multinational accounts to potentially gain worldwide opportunities.
However, Ogilvy also advises caution when taking on new clients. Avoid or drop clients who can’t pay, have a different company culture, are failing, or are bullies.
Finding an Agency
To find the right advertising agency, start by reviewing ads in magazines and on TV that you admire. Create a list of agencies responsible for those ads and eliminate those working with your competitors. Meet with the heads and creative directors of the remaining agencies and ask to see their top six print and TV ads. Choose the agency with the most compelling campaigns and offer to pay 1% more than their usual fee and sign a five-year contract to secure their services.
Public Opinion on Advertising
Critics rank adpeople as low as car salespeople in honesty, but Ogilvy argues that advertising is not inherently immoral and can have positive effects.
Ads go through many levels of approval before running, except for political advertising, which can be dishonest. Advertising may only convince someone to buy an inferior product once. Agencies were creating less informative ads and billboards were considered dangerous and ugly at the time of writing.