Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ogilvy on Advertising - David Ogilvy

David Ogilvy is one of the grandmasters of the advertising industry. He apparently started his advertising career when he was 38, with no advertising background. Having been credited with building Ogilvy and Mather, the ad company that made many famous ads, Ogilvy took time off to pen his experiences down. These nuggets of wisdom are stuff I have been waiting to read for years and it was only the other day when Raja gave me a copy that I could read it. I do believe that all writers will benefit from advertising copy writing.

I will reproduce stuff that I liked in the book randomly.

On how to make advertising that sells

"Advertising is a medium of information. I want you to find it so interesting that I want to buy the product."

"Consumers buy products whose advertising promise them value for money, beauty, nutrition, relief from suffering, social status etc."

"There are products with the right appeal and the wrong appeal. Advertisements with the wrong appeal have actually harmed sales."

On research and homework
He cites the example of Rolls Royce and its classic line - "At sixty miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls Royce comes from the electric clock" - and the research that went into it to highlight the importance of doing your homework, studying the product, studying the competitors with similar products and researching consumers.

"Find out how they think about your kind of a product, what kind of a language they use when they discuss the subject. What attributes are important to them and what promise would be most likely to make them buy your brand. Informal conversations with housewives can help."

On positioning - "What the product does and who it is for". He cites the example of how he could have positioned Dove soap either way, at men or women, and chose to position it as one for women with as a soap with moisturising benefits. Also the positioning of SAAB cars as winter cars and Volkswagen Beetle as the small car.

On Image - "Products have a personality. Its name, packaging, price, style of advertising, nature of product itself. Every ad contributes to this overall branding, personality."

"An image of quality helps. Images appeal. People buy the image, not the product. Brand image is 90%."

What's the big idea to make your advertisement stand out- "Invent the big idea. Stuff information in your head. Then when you have enough go for long walks, so the big idea releases itself. Imagery is important he says."

Ogilvy quotes someone who said that the best asset a man can have is "Humility in the presence of a good idea."

How to recognise a good idea?

- Did it make me gasp when I first saw it?
- Do I wish I had thought of it myself
- Is it unique
- Does it fit the strategy to perfection
- Could it be used for 30 years

Ogilvy says - "Make the product the hero."

While advertising he says "you need not be superior. Its sufficient to convince the reader that it is positively good.If your consumer feels certain that your product is good and feels uncertain about competitors, he will buy yours."

"If you and your competitors all make excellent products, don't try to imply that your product is better. Just say what's good about your product. And do a clearer, more honest, more informative job of saying it. Do not insult the intelligence of the consumer."

"Repeat your winners until they stop selling. Remember you aren't advertising to a standing army, you are advertising to a moving parade."

Ogilvy has no faith in committees and says he would like screening to be down to two levels. His grouse is that "by attempting to cover too many things they achieve nothing."

A great surgeon knows more than other surgeons. So "know your stuff better". Like for example, that black on white reads better and not reverse. Other stuff that research threw up is that images of finished dishes attracted more viewers than raw material ingredients. "Photos with an element of story appeal attracted more."

Ogilvy on advertising careers - or careers as a whole
I loved this line and it holds good anywhere any time - "At the start what you learn is more important than what you earn."
Tips for CEOs (or how to run an ad agency)
"Make it fun. Be honest. Be a good listener. Be fair. Avoid playing favorites. Hire talent."

On hiring talent
He would give the top managers a gift on promotion - a Matrioska doll from Gorky where there are dolls within dolls. If the recipient of the gift had the patience to go to the innermost doll he would in this message from Ogilvy.

"If each of us hire 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, we shall become a company of giants."

"Look for curiosity, common sense, wisdom, imagination and literacy. Look for people who can lead the agency."

Look for crown princes (talent) who show.
1) Power of analysis 2) Imagination 3) Sense of reality 4) Ability to look at facts from an overall viewpoint

He cautions against hiring your friends, relatives, client's children, your children and clients.

On Leadership To handle office politics he says - fire the worst of the lot, encourage face to face confrontation, lunch meetings, don't play favorites, don't play politics

On discipline he says - "Ensure punctuality, that telephones are answered promptly, client confidentiality, Sustain unremitting pressure on professional standards, don't settle for second best, insist that due dates are met."

Ogilvy believes great leadership can have an electrifying effect. When you look for leaders look for the unorthodox guys. "Companies don't grow without innovation." Look for self confidence. Committed.
He says that people do their best in a happy atmosphere,

"The most effective leader is the one who satisfies the psychological needs of his followers."
Create centres of leadership. Inspire,.

He quotes Field Marshall Montgomery
"The leader must have infectious optimism and the determination to persevere in the face of difficulties, He mus also radiate confidence even when he himself is not too certain of the outcome."

The final test of a leader is the feeling you have when you leave his presence after a conference. Have you a feeling of uplift and confidence?

Have written principles - servicing clients to profits.
5  tips to lead
1) Never allow two people to do a job when one would suffice 2) don't summon them to your office, got to their desk unannounced 3) if you want action, tell verbally 4) use client products 5) don't write complaints

On getting clients
1) Make a list of the clients you want and go after them 2) Look for 1st class business in a first class way
3) Do good advertising 4) Build track record 5) Listen at meetings 6) House ads

For clients looking to hire an agency 
Look at their ads, give a 5 year contract, reject gently, praise quickly

Tips for Print advertising

Headlines - They sell your product, people read them 5 times more than they read copy, promise a benefit, news (22% more readers read), offer helpful information, include brand name in headline wherever possible, when lines are within quotes readership increases by 28%

Illustrations - Get a good idea as the subject, arouse curiosity, make your package the subject, end result makes them curious like in before-after ads, photographs make more sense than drawings, use known characters, simple illustrations, normal sized human faces (not out sized ones)

Body copy - Interest the reader, talk directly, short sentences, short paras, tell a story, don't use analogies, no superlatives, testimonials help

Use headlines under the illustration

On television commercials 
He says there are 10 types that work and 3 that don't (for him)
The ones that work are 1) humor 2) slice of life 3) testimonials 4) demonstrations 5) problem solution 6) talking heads 7) characters 7) reason why 9) news and 10) emotion

The ones that don't seem to work are 1) celebrities 2) cartoons and 3) musicals

Tips for TV ads
Brand identification - use name within 10 seconds, show package, show food in motion, close ups, open with fire, sing it when you have nothing else to do, use sound effects, voice overs, supers

Advertising for corporates
Need 1) clear objective, research to track progress.
To influence readers
1) Simplify if issue is complicated
2) disarm with candor
3) give both sides of the issue
4) know your target

Ogilvy goes on to talk about many more things - how to advertise foreign travel, Business to Business advertising, direct mail (limited edition, limited supply, last time, special price), he talks of how it is to work with P&G and their attention to detail and control over the process based on research and on marketing.

The book is full of great ads and their analyses. And he says it in a most interesting manner. Glad I read it. Will read it again and add some more at that time.

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