Confessions of an Ad Man
At a used bookstore many years ago, I bought a first edition of the 1963 classic Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy. Neatly folded and tucked inside the book was this hand-typed memo on Diamond National Corporation letterhead:
The language in the memo seems almost quaint, but the tone is serious. Mr. Reifers wants George to read that book in preparation for his upcoming meeting with the boys from Dayton. Based on the frequent underlining — and many detailed notes in the margins — it appears that George not only carefully read the book, but had every intent of using the suggestions it contained.
After recently re-reading this best-selling book for the umpteenth time, it struck me that the wisdom and advice it contained are no less relevant today than they were 50 years ago. In fact, you can learn most of what you need to know about marketing and advertising by reading just a few books (see Resources below).
Save your money
You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on online courses taught by clueless “thought leaders” or “influencers.” Products change, needs change, channels change — But the brain still works pretty much the same. Evolution doesn’t move that fast. The art of persuasion doesn’t either.
“My observation has been that mediocre men recognize genius, resent it, and feel compelled to destroy it. There are very few men of genius in advertising agencies. Almost without exception they are disagreeable. Don’t destroy them. They lay golden eggs.”
Who is David Ogilvy?
David Mackenzie Ogilvy (1911–1999) was an advertising tycoon and founder of Ogilvy & Mather. Often referred to as the father of modern advertising, Ogilvy trained at the Gallup research organization and attributed much of his success to the meticulous study of consumer habits.
In 1962, Time magazine called David Ogilvy “the most sought-after wizard in today’s advertising industry.” During his years as an executive and copywriter, he created some of the world’s most successful and iconic marketing campaigns; including Shell Oil, American Express, Hathaway Shirts, Schwepps, Sears, Dove, Rolls Royce, the island of Puerto Rico, and many others.
Ogilvy on Advertising
Another classic by David Ogilvy is Ogilvy on Advertising, first published in 1983. Despite a wall filled with books on marketing, this is my absolute favorite. I’ve read it cover-to-cover at least a dozen times — And I always learn something new. Most of the chuckleheads peddling miracle Facebook advertising tactics stole their material from this book.