David Ogilvy quotes on ad and copywriting

For those who do not know David Ogilvy, he is an infamous, late-1900’s advertising executive and copywriter, one of the pioneers of information-rich, soft-sell ads. We recently came across an article on this advertising giant written by Beth Hayden, Senior Staff Writer for Copyblogger Media. What caught our eye were genius quotes on advertising and good writing. Here are 10 of Ogilvy’s gems:  

  • Big ideas come from the unconscious. This is true in art, in science, and in advertising. But your unconscious has to be well informed, or your idea will be irrelevant. Stuff your conscious mind with information, then unhook your rational thought process. You can help this process by going for a long walk, or taking a hot bath, or drinking half a pint of claret. Suddenly, if the telephone line from your unconscious is open, a big idea wells up within you.
  • Talent, I believe, is most likely to be found among nonconformists, dissenters, and rebels.
  • In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create.
  • If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think. We try to write in the vernacular.
  • On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.
  • Never use tricky or irrelevant headlines… People read too fast to figure out what you are trying to say.
  • Do not … address your readers as though they were gathered together in a stadium. When people read your copy, they are alone. Pretend you are writing to each of them a letter on behalf of your client.
  • If you have all the research, all the ground rules, all the directives, all the data — it doesn’t mean the ad is written. Then you’ve got to close the door and write something — that is the moment of truth which we all try to postpone as long as possible.
  • There isn’t any significant difference between the various brands of whiskey, or cigarettes or beer. They are all about the same. And so are the cake mixes and the detergents, and the margarines… The manufacturer who dedicates his advertising to building the most sharply defined personality for his brand will get the largest share of the market at the highest profit.
  • Don’t bunt. Aim out of the ball park. Aim for the company of immortals.


SOURCE:  Beth Hayden’s article, “13 Timeless Lessons from the Father of Advertising” can be read on Copyblogger.com

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