Confessions Of An Ad Man – David Ogilvy
By on Jun 17, 2010

Mr Green: Last week Justin Barr introduced to me to David Ogilvy (not physically, just theoretically). I was like damn I gotta post on this guy, he’s amazing. However my friend Ewoww aka Boom Boom Pow from AKMG said I wasn’t allowed to. She said she was his number one fan and was coming up with the best write-up ever on him.  Usually I only except guest posts from angry Russians, but since Ewoww lived in Russia and is pretty surly pre-coffee,  I figured this topic was something not to be missed.

So here it is ladies and gentlemen. I present to you a literary masterpiece by Ewoww on the outstanding advertising visionary David Ogilvy.

If you don’t know about Ogilvy, watch this video to get some perspective on how ahead of his time he is. He filmed it in the early 70s.

“Direct response is my first love, and later it became my secret weapon.” ~ David Ogilvy

Ewoww: I was inspired to write this post after reading (albeit a little post facto) Shock Marketer’s blog. To Mr. Shock de la Rock, whoever you are, your blog is tip top.

A longtime ago and far far away, before there was Don Draper and Roger Sterling, there was David Ogilvy. Mr. Ogilvy was the King of Madison Avenue, and the man knew how to sell.

Before my life in affiliate marketing, Miss Ewoww worked at a direct response advertising agency working on DR TV shows, radio spots, print ads, catalogs, and a lot of direct mail. And we were all fanbois of David Ogilvy.

“In print advertising, you know that long copy sells more than short copy. You know, that headlines and copy about the product and its benefits sell more than cute headlines and poetic copy. You know it to a dollar… Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.”

Sound familiar? There are a LOT of old school marketing tricks from that golden era of advertising that should be brought back (and I mean besides the 3 martini lunch). It’s time to go back to our direct response roots (and no, I’m not referring to that “blonde” Hydra AM <cat sound!>).

mad men

You can build all the scrapers you want but if you don’t start figuring out why something is working, then you’ll always be a step behind the innovators, chasing the trends. As Father Flipside called it (although I do believe that grandfathered in from Mr. Affbuzz, who originally coined the term)  the “WickedFire mindset.”

For example, let’s talk segmentation and targeting my affilifriends. Know who your product is for, and I mean specifics. Certainly not for everyone, not for people trying to lose weight, not for women trying to lose weight, but possibly about for first-time moms trying to lose the baby weight but finding themselves with no free time and exhausted more than ever desperate for a quick fix to get their bodies back in pre-bambino shape.

Ogilvy was already hip to your so-called farticle.

“It has been found that the less an advertisement looks like an advertisement, and the more it looks like an editorial, the more readers stop, look and read. Therefore, study the graphics used by editors and imitate them. Study the graphics used in advertisements, and avoid them.”

What you call linkbait or subject lines, the Direct Response world calls teasers and headlines.

Some headlines tips from Mr. Ogilvy…

  • 1. Try to put news in the headline. The words new and free are the most powerful words that can appear in the headline.
  • 2.  There are several other words that are effective: How to, Suddenly, Now, Announcing, Improvement, etc.  Headlines can also include emotional words.
  • 3.  Include a promise in the headlines, and longer headlines sell more than short headlines.  Make the consumer curious.
  • 4. Do not try to write tricky headlines, be simple and to the point.
  • 5. Do not use negatives in the headlines.

Some more words-o-wisdom from the King of Madison Avenue:

david ogilvy

  • “The more informative your advertising, the more persuasive it will be.”
  • “A good advertisement is one which sells the product without drawing attention to itself.”
  • “Long copy, long headlines, address people as individuals, use plain conversational language (Ewoww note: aka the flog) and write your copy in the form of a story.”

I leave you with this my affilifriends… If this video doesn’t stir you ever the slightest, then take a knee spaceman and move on. Affiliate marketing ain’t for you. Enjoy ripping landers and trying to fill the post-continuity void. Get back to me when you move back in with mom and pops.

And if it did, go pick up David’s classic handbook, “Ogilvy on Advertising.” You’ll be glad you did!

Mr Green: Amen to that!

man in the hathaway shirtP.S. Last month I saw for the first time the advertising campaign “The Most Interesting Man in the World” by Dos Equis Beer. I was like damn that is awesome! Once again Ogilvy had something to do with it. It was actually a knockoff of his famous ad campaign: The Man in the Hathaway Shirt. But that is a story for another post.

Comments (45)

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  1. brian says:

    "…They've never tasted blood." Classic.

  2. groomez says:

    Ogilvy is God. I wish more affiligurus knew about him.

  3. Ogilvy would be upset at the general advertising fail I saw yesterday:

    Bieber ads on Pandora (gangsta station)

    Needless to say, I laughed

  4. great post. that guy's accent gives him an automatic air of authority. everything old is new again. of course back then split testing wasn't anywhere near as instantaneous and extensive as it can be today. imagine creating 500 different print ads and tracking the responses?

  5. Nick says:

    Looks like I've been doing a lot of stuff wrong. I'll be the first to admit it – better late than never.

    Thanks for this post, Lorenzo.

  6. Nicholas says:

    Awesome 🙂

    So obvious where the Seth Godin's of our time comes from…

    "they have never tasted blodd…" got to love that 🙂

    Sweet post Mr. Green and thanks, was good get a bit of a knock back to reality and simplicity.

  7. Clement says:

    I reckon that is also the book title but if its any good? thinking of getting one.

  8. Shaun says:

    TAKE A KNEE SPACEMAN, TAKE A KNEE. Love this reference and it absolutely applies here.

  9. EWOWWWW is that like JWOW (Jersey Shore) j/k

    Great informative post as always, if only all AMs were on top of their marketing like AKMG then maybe I wouldn't have to put them on ignore and block in AIM.

    • Nick says:

      I'm going to drop a platitude here, but since my deep dive into the world of making monies online, the order of usefulness (highest signal:noise) has been:

      digitalpoint < Warrior Forum < [big gap] < WickedFire forums < dupre/volk < NickyCakes < WickedFire Stickied Posts < Ralph Ruckman's blog < Robert Cialdini < finchsells/mrgreen < elbow grease

      Looks like Ogilvy is up there too.

    • Thank you Father Flipsite, I'll remind you of that next time you ignore me. Wiiiiinks!

  10. Yvon says:

    Great stuff. Way ahead of his time. What was he doing in India at that time?!

  11. […] "Direct Marketing was my first love… then it became my secret weapon" – You've gotta check out this video posted both on Mr. Green's site and AKMG's site written by Eleah. Really great video from the 70's on direct response marketing. […]

  12. jason argall says:

    Ogilvy started in DR and took what he learned to make it huge in branding. But the real pioneers of DR were John Caples and Claude Hopkins. Ogilvy thanks them many times.

    Caples's "Tested Advertising Methods That Work" and Hopkins's "Scientific Advertising" are must-read books for anybody in advertising. Ogilvy says nobody should be in advertising unless he has read "Scientific Advertising" at least 7 times. Now that's a testimonial that sells! 🙂

  13. Josh From NZ says:

    Great clip! Ogilvy is the man, a true pioneer. Everything he says applies just as strongly to the internet, 40 years later.

  14. Ogilvy is indeed a clever person even though he does not have a high IQ – quite average actually. It just points out that you do not have to a genius to hit it big… you just need to be clever.

  15. d3so says:

    What an inspirational video by Ogilvy. Though, I haven't heard of him before his points are dead on. I was amazed how he saw the potential of credit cards & computers.

    Simply, amazing.

  16. […] by lawtonchiles on July 8, 2010 Hey there. Here’s another post on writing great copy-specifically headline copy. Now, if you want to get all old-school direct response on me, then check out the words of wisdom from ad-great David Olgilvy. […]

  17. Lorne Fade says:

    Awesome post, another great marketing ploy that has been used recently is the @oldspice man doing 30 second shouts across the online community. Tapping into the viral marketing world via chauvinistic man doings can only be good marketing, and as we all know cocky + funny works wonders on the ladies.

  18. HellEvgen says:

    it was very interesting to read
    I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?

    And you et an account on Twitter?

  19. Giving You A True Definition Of Copywriting. says:

    […] Confessions Of An Ad Man – David Ogilvy | Mr Green […]

  20. That is a really cool philosophy, kudos.

  21. K Donlin says:

    Great post! Ogilvy is still light years ahead of most pinhead ad agency types who judge advertising by how creative it is. Can you take creativity to the bank? No, only dollars. If an ad doesn't sell, it matters not one iota how clever or funny it is, as Ogilvy understood.

    Don't know if you found time to write about it, but I did a blog post on how his "man from Schweppes" character was reborn as "the most interesting man in the world" –

    Keep up the excellent work.

  22. Sandra says:

    That is too funny – my friend loves that commercial – every time it comes on he is glued to it "the most interesting man in the world" I think it is a little over board myself but it does seem to get a lot of attention. So whatever it takes right!

  23. David says:

    Awesome video!!!!

  24. awesome says:

    Why users still use to read news papers when in this technological world everything is presented on

  25. […] Confessions Of An Ad Man – David Ogilvy […]

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