Do You Want A Career In Advertising?

Two men met on a plane. One guy says he’s an account executive in an advertising agency, but he’s not with accounts or research, and he doesn’t write nor sell ads. Pressed for details, he says he’s a marketing man, but clients do the marketing for themselves. Is he in management? “No,” he says, “but I soon will be.” That was a true story, weird, and David Ogilvy quickly wrote the scene he overheard in a memo. Ogilvy, the larger-than-life founder of Ogilvy & Mather and author of the industry bible Confessions of An Advertising Man, had what it takes to turn admen into legends. Here are some of them, from The Unpublished David Ogilvy (Sidgwick & Jackson), edited by Joel Raphaelson. Independent-Minded Unconventional people serve society in their radical ways. During a 1968 speech in his alma mater Fettes, an all-boys academy in Scotland, he said that the founder left his endowment for children, and asked who among the audience are in favor of admitting girls – and the motion is carried! Open To New Ideas Innovation is about picking the best ideas. In a 1981 speech to American Express executives, he expressed his admiration for the Japanese who, unlike Westerners, “take more interest in their employers” and “aren’t obsessed with short-term profit.” Can Write Well Advertising is about sending a message. “The better you write, the higher you go in Ogilvy & Mather,” he writes in a 1982 memo. “People who think well, write well.” But, “Good writing is not a natural gift,” he warns. “You have to learn to write well.” The idea is expressed more elegantly in a 1966 speech: “Knowledge is useless unless you know to communicate it – in writing.” Works With The Best A company is only as good as its people. In an anecdotal board meeting, Ogilvy opened a Russian doll and showed the smaller doll inside – and the even smaller one inside that, and so on. Attached to the inmost (and smallest) doll is his immortal memo: “If you always hire people who are smaller than you are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. If, on the other hand, you always hire people who are bigger than you are, we shall become a company of giants.” Principled and Idealistic Honest people tell the truth even if it hurts. Ogilvy bravely enumerates his shortcomings, like “I am intolerant of mediocrity and laziness” and “I see too many sides of every argument.” The best policy always works. “We like people who are honest,” he tells their directors in an oft-repeated dinner speech. “Honest in argument, honest with clients, honest with suppliers, honest with the company – and above all, honest with consumers. Never run an advertisement you would not want your own family to see.” Copywriters need not be poets, but Ogilvy loves to quote Rudyard Kipling’s saga about Sir Anthony Gloster. In one scene, the shipping tycoon talks to his son about his competitors: “They copied all they could follow,/ But they couldn’t copy my mind./ And I left them ’em sweating and stealing,/ A year and a half behind.” Ogilvy ads montage courtesy of CuriousMindAtWork. This story originally appeared in CareerGuide, The Philippine Star Your comments and links are welcome

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