Ogilvy and why we advertise?

Author: Magnus Still

Finally, I have David Ogilvy’s classic ”Ogilvy on Advertising” from 1983 in my hands.

I couldn’t help bursting out laughing when I read his opening words:

“I do not regard advertising as entertainment or an art form, but as a medium of information. When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative’. I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product. When Aeschines spoke, they said, ‘How well he speaks’. But when Demosthenes spoke, they said, ‘Let us march against Philip’.”

So true. And reality has shown it is easier said than done:

1. One of my very first clients had problems with their advertising agency Account Manager and wanted us to meet. After a while and in private, the Account Manager said to me, “I have been working for this Account for close to 25 years now. I think I know what the cause of the current frustration is: Nobody ever told me the purpose of the adverts was to sell.”


(In the end, the Account Manager couldn’t move from branding type of advertising to sales focused. And my client decided to move on. But that’s another story.)

1. One of my early mentors and collaborators was Claes Rydberg who had started a subscription series for Östgöta Wind Symphonics in Sweden. After 4 years the 1,100 seat Linköping Concert & Congress Hall was sold out and they had to start repeat concerts. When Claes left 2 years later, they had 1,800 subscribers.

A couple of years into our collaboration I asked Claes to show me the Östgöta adverts. He was extremely hesitant. After a lot of pushing, he sent me the copies but only on the promise that I wouldn’t show them to anyone. “People simply won’t understand. I didn’t really care about the esthetics. I really had to fight with every graphic designer to get everything right. Why? I paid a lot of money for those adverts and they had to do their job of selling our subscriptions.”

Wow, is this going to be an exciting read!