On June 23, 1911, one of the greatest advertising men in the history of modern advertising was born in the small village of West Horsley, England.
Many people consider David Mackenzie Ogilvy, CBE, to be the “Father of Advertising”.
However, as Kenneth Roman’s Adweek article, “David Ogilvy & Me”, points out, David Ogilvy’s career took him in many different directions before he eventually turned to advertising.
Ogilvy was an apprentice chef at the Hotel Majestic in Paris, an Aga cookers salesman in Scotland, an apprentice at his brother’s ad agency in London, and an associate director of Dr. George Gallup’s Audience Research Institute at Princeton. During World War II, he was on Sir William Stephenson’s staff in British Security Coordination. And, after the war, he even spent some time as a farmer in the Amish countryside of Pennsylvania.
“Then, at 38, never really having worked in advertising (save for his brief stint at his brother’s firm), he opens an agency in New York to compete with the great agencies of the day, and within 10 years becomes the most talked about person on Madison Avenue,” reports Kenneth Roman in the Adweek article. Roman goes on to say, “His ad campaigns set new standards in style and taste, his speeches about building brands and respecting the consumer made news, his dramatic dress and memorable sayings got him invited to parties and even to the White House.”
According to the Ogilvy & Mather website, thirty-three years after founding Hewitt, Ogilvy, Benson & Mather (which eventually became Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide), Ogilvy sent the following memo to one of his partners:
“Will Any Agency Hire This Man?
He is 38, and unemployed. He dropped out of college. He has been a cook, a salesman, a diplomatist and a farmer. He knows nothing about marketing and had never written any copy. He professes to be interested in advertising as a career (at the age of 38!) and is ready to go to work for $5,000 a year.
I doubt if any American agency will hire him.
However, a London agency did hire him. Three years later he became the most famous copywriter in the world, and in due course built the tenth biggest agency in the world.
The moral: it sometimes pays an agency to be imaginative and unorthodox in hiring.”
In short, David Ogilvy lived a very interesting life.
Even today, he continues to inspire businesspeople around the globe.
Furthermore, while the marketing and advertising world today is very different than it was when Ogilvy got his start, Ogilvy’s ideas are still very relevant today.
It is no coincidence that I’m publishing my first blog post today, 100 years after the birth of David Ogilvy.
Happy Birthday Mr. Ogilvy!