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Confessions of an Advertising Man Paperback – January 1, 2012
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"Ogilvy's writing is pithy, lively and urbane...[Confessions of an Advertising Man] is full of great stories from the world of 1960s advertising." — IndependentMail.com
"Required reading for anyone in business" —Media Week
"I would like to make it mandatory that everyone in advertising read David Ogilvy's first book, Confessions of an Advertising Man at least once a year."—George Parker in Business Insider
"It's a classic...I tell my students if you're going to read a book about advertising, start with that one." — Investor's Business Daily
About the Author
- ASIN : 190491537X
- Publisher : Southbank Publishing; REV ed. edition (January 1, 2012)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 192 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781904915379
- ISBN-13 : 978-1904915379
- Item Weight : 10.5 ounces
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.6 x 9.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #61,833 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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Top reviews from the United States
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David Ogilvy traces the start and growth of one of the most successful advertising agencies in history. His business philosophy is striking - he did not strive for a large number of clients but was much more selective in targeting the clients that he felt would be mutually beneficial.
He would refuse to spend time developing competitive proposals in bidding for business. He felt like the business should be awarded based on competency. He offers some great insights into why his agency was so successful.
I would recommend this book for everyone in business - not just for ad men or copywriters. David shares a lot of principles of advertising that will help anyone spend their ad dollars better.
According to Ogilvy, he originally wrote this book in 1962 in order to attract new clients to his advertising agency, to condition the market for a public offering of Ogilvy's shares, and to make himself better known in the business world. I think it's fair to say that he succeeded on all three points. Although Ogilvy subsequently stated that if he were to write this book again, he would be "less indiscreet, less boastful and less didactic," the book doesn't strike me as overly boastful or pompous. You would expect an advertising man to be sold on his own ideas.
Ogilvy gets straight to the heart of matters for advertisers. Here is how he organized the book:
1. How to manage an advertising agency.
2. How to get clients.
3. How to keep clients.
4. How to be a good client.
5. How to build great campaigns.
6. How to write potent copy.
7. How to illustrate advertisements and posters.
8. How to make good television commercials.
9. How to make good campaigns for food products, tourist destinations and proprietary medicines.
10. How to rise to the top of the tree--advice to the young.
11. Should advertising be abolished?
Although you may not read this book in one sitting, it is short enough and interesting enough that it won't take you very long to finish reading it. Finally, to give more flavor to Ogilvy's approach to advertising, here are a few of his more famous thoughts:
"Tell the truth, but make the truth fascinating."
"Big ideas are usually simple ideas."
"It is important to admit your mistakes and to do so before you are charged with them."
"In the best establishments, promise are always kept, whatever it may cost in agony and overtime."
And one of my favorites (which I've shortened), because it shows a blend of insight and self-awareness: "It is a mistake to use highfalutin language when advertising... I once used the word "obsolete" in a headline, only to discover that 33% of [readers] had no idea what it meant. In another headline I used the word "ineffable," only to discover that I didn't know what it meant myself."
Top reviews from other countries
“My dear old son, how can you swallow that mumbo-jumbo? It is all very well for servants but not for educated people. You don’t have to be a Christian to behave like a gentleman!
“My mother was a beautiful and eccentric Irishwoman. She disinherited me on the ground that I was likely to acquire more money than was good for me without any help from her. I could not disagree.”
Written more than 50 years ago, David Ogilvy’s Confessions of an Advertising Man has two strengths. First, it tells you how to be successful in business. Second, he shows how great brands are created by selling the big idea to as many people as possible.
In 1988 Ogilvy added a preface to explain why he wrote the book. First, to attract new clients to his advertising agency. Second, to help sell shares in his company. Third, to make himself better known in the business world. It achieved all three.
He also had to make three corrections as the world had changed from 1962 when the book was written. The world has changed even more since 1988 but Ogilvy’s ideas are still fresh and still easy to use.
He opens with a chapter on how to manage an advertising agency that can be used for any business. While Ogilvy came from a privileged background, he failed at university and had to work his way as a salesman, as a market researcher and as a chef at the Hotel Majestic in Paris.
“There were 37 chefs in our brigade. We worked like dervishes 63 hours a week. From morning to night we sweated and shouted and curses and cooked. Every man jack was inspired by one ambition: to cook better than any chef had cooked before.”
Ogilvy describes how Monsieur Pitard, the head chef, inspired his kitchen while ruling with a rod of iron (“we were terrified of him”).
Pitard believed in exorbitant standards of service and in keeping his kitchen clean. While all his cooks were badly paid M Pitard lived in a chateau.
“Far from concealing his wealth from the rest of us he drove to work in a taxi, carried a cane with a gold head and dressed when off-duty like an international banker. This flaunting of privilege stimulated our ambition to follow in his footsteps.”
Pitard, he recalled, worked 77 hours a week and only took one free day a fortnight.
Ogilvy shows how his experience in the kitchen shaped his rules for running his business and he provides two lists on who to hire as staff and who to hire as customers. One of the books strengths is its many useful lists that you can apply to solve almost any problem.
Oddly for a book selling the idea of investing in his company, Ogilvy consistently complains of how thin his margins are. I am sure this is a salesman’s trick. “Once a salesman, always a salesman,” he says.
Ogilvy is always keen to show us the money. This is a strength. “At the end of a concert at Carnegie Hall, Walter Damrosch asked Rachmaninoff what sublime thoughts had passed through his head as he stared out into the audience during the playing of his concerto. “I was counting the house,” said Rachmaninoff.”
Ogilvy’s book has sold more than one million copies. It can only inspire you to run your business better.
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