The #1 Part of Any Ad: From Ogilvy On Advertising Book

Michael Apr 26, 2022
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David ogilvy on advertising book


If you listen long enough to any modern-day thought-leader in marketing... it is nearly INEVITABLE they will give props to the late David Ogilvy, a.k.a. "The Father of Advertising."

Since starting his ad agency in 1948 (still in business today and in roughly 83 countries)... and writing his books...

Ogilvy is one of those few anointed wizards that has influenced almost everyone involved in the advertising world.

So what does this OG think the #1 most important part of an advertisement is?

Let's jump right in:

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Okay, time to confess...

Ogilvy made it easy for me to be lazy on this one...

My biggest takeaway from his book, "Ogilvy On Advertising" wasn't from any skillful insight on my part, but because he told me — without any ambiguity — what I should take away.

And that is...

Promise a benefit to your customer!

From the book:

Advertising which promises no benefit to the consumer does not sell, yet the majority of campaigns contain no promise whatever. (That is the most important sentence in this book. Read it again.)

Now, when I say that everyone likes him, there's a caveat:

He is mostly revered by the entrepreneurial, results-driven marketers than he is by the brand-building, big pocketed corporate marketers...

And that is because he had a nearly inappropriate level of affection for 2 things:

  • Research

  • Direct-Response Advertising

Ogilvy knew that it wasn't enough to draw up a logo, write a catchy song, and then blow 50 million dollars on a gluttonous campaign... and assault Americans' psyche with what was the 1950s and 60s equivalent of spam.

There were plenty of agencies back in the "mad men" days (and even still today) ready to spend 10 years and millions of dollars to create the abstract and elusive "brand awareness" while they prepare their tuxedos for the advertisement award ceremonies.

David wasn't concerned with that stuff.

He knew that careful product and market research leads to valuable insights (discipline required)...

Those insights allow you to craft a promise that will resonate with the client/customer (cajones required)...

And that you should guide the customer on how to make a purchase (direct-response advertising required).

All of which can create leveraged, measurable results.

Ogilvy will be remembered as someone was focused on the main thing in this industry: Making Money.

So, next time you write to your future customer/client... try these 3 steps:

  1. Be bold

  2. Make a promise

  3. Collect mulah