David Mackenzie Ogilvy has been called the Father of Advertising and the greatest copyrwriter of all time. Born in West Horsley, England, on June 23, 1911. He was educated at Fettes College in Edinburgh and at Christ Church, Oxford (although he didn’t graduate).

david ogilvy

After Oxford, Ogilvy went to Paris, where he worked in the kitchen of the Hotel Majestic. He learned discipline, management – and when to move on: “If I stayed at the Majestic I would have faced years of slave wages, fiendish pressure, and perpetual exhaustion.” He returned to England to sell cooking stoves, door-to-door.

Ogilvy’s career with Aga Cookers was astonishing. He sold stoves to nuns, drunkards, and everyone in between. In 1935 he wrote a guide for Aga salesmen (Fortune magazine called it “probably the best sales manual ever written”). Among its suggestions, “The more prospects you talk to, the more sales you expose yourself to, the more orders you will get. But never mistake quantity of calls for quality of salesmanship.”

1. Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.

2. Never use tricky or irrelevant headlines… People read too fast to figure out what you are trying to say. 

3. 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. 

4. A good advertisement is one which sells the product without drawing attention to itself. 

5. There is no need for advertisements to look like advertisements. If you make them look like editorial pages, you will attract about 50 per cent more readers. 

6. If you ever have the good fortune to create a great advertising campaign, you will soon see another agency steal it. This is irritating, but don’t let it worry you; nobody has ever built a brand by imitating somebody else’s advertising. 

7. The more informative your advertising, the more persuasive it will be. 

8. Every advertisement should be thought of as a contribution to the complex symbol which is the brand image.

9. 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. 

10. Our business is infested with idiots who try to impress by using pretentious jargon.