Ogling at Ogilvy’s book

Ogilvy on Advertising is recommended almost religiously as a literary introduction to my industry.

This recommendation is some of the soundest advice I’ve received.

Its insightful, (obviously) well-informed, but most of all it gets you excited about the industry.

It makes everything seem easy. Strips it down to its purest, simplest form.

Here are a few little reasons why.

Insightful snippets:

“You aren’t advertising to a standing army, you’re advertising to a moving parade.”

“Committees can criticise but they cannot create.”

“Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals.”

“They use research as a drunkard uses a lamppost, not for illumination but for support.”

Tips you can’t top:

“A habit of graceful surrender on trivial issues will make you difficult to resist when you stand and fight on a major issue.”

“Don’t discuss your client’s business in public places.”

“[The account man] represents the agency to the client, and the client to the agency.”

And the best one:

“If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs, but if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, Ogilvy and Mather will become a company of giants.”


One ‘mistake’ he makes is in his praising of P&G in the success of their formulas for advertising. He describes how they have had unrivalled consistency within their markets over a long period of time.

However, the two exceptions he cites were in Bell crisps beating Pringles, and Rave beating Lilt. Coincidentally, both were products that Ogilvy advertised at the time.

The irony is clear here. His observations of P&G proved to be correct in the long run.

Because where are Bell and Rave now, while Pringles and Lilt are household names?

Pure genius.

Simply, an essential read.

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