Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Confessions of an Advertising Man” as Want to Read:
Confessions of an Advertising Man
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Confessions of an Advertising Man

4.03  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,028 Ratings  ·  157 Reviews
David Ogilvy was an advertising genius. At the age of 37, he founded the New York-based agency that later merged to form the international company known as Ogilvy & Mather. Regarded as the father of modern advertising, Ogilvy was responsible for some of the most memorable advertising campaigns ever created. Confessions of an Advertising Man is the distillation of all t ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published August 1st 2004 by Southbank Publishing (first published 1963)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
Steve Jobs by Walter IsaacsonThe Art of Startup Fundraising by Alejandro CremadesLosing My Virginity by Richard BransonThe Everything Store by Brad StoneSteve Jobs Bio by J.T. Owens
Business Biographies and Memoirs
7th out of 106 books — 105 voters
Ogilvy on Advertising by David OgilvyD&AD by D&ADHey, Whipple, Squeeze This by Luke SullivanSorry for the lobsters by Neil FrenchConfessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy
5th out of 24 books — 19 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jul 05, 2013 Marc rated it liked it
Recommends it for: New to Advertising, Interested in Advertising, Copywriters
Having always been fascinated by advertising, this book was on my list of must buy. A quick browse at, and I knew I just must have it. So why not more than 3 stars?

This was a book from a genius in the advertising field. The topics, or tips, or whatever you want to call them, were supposed to be, in my opinion, ageless. Some are. How to be the leading man in an agency, how to behave with clients to get accounts (sometimes), etc... Yet, a lot is typical to the time of writing, and not s
Nov 08, 2011 Rick rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
I wish I had read this book ten years ago. Ha.

Much of it is as spot-on now as it was then. I love the prologue from the 80's where he makes two small corrections to the book, as if everything else is totally un-changed. I wish David Ogilvy had lived in the internet times. I would love to know what the thought about things.

If you're in advertising, read this book. Balance it out with a book about Bill Bernbach. Ignore some of his cantankerous commentary about selling and blocked out type if you
Sep 09, 2011 Jan-Maat added it
Recommends it for: Anybody who contrasts out part of their business operation
This is one long, but entertaining, advert for Ogilvy's ad agency that's driven forward by a fantastic mixture of short paragraphs (many with just two sentences) and anecdotes. The first time I didn't really realise quite how relentless this effect was until I found myself turning the last page.

Of course the business of keeping paragraphs short is one of the many pieces of advise that he gives in the book.

Ogilvy tells you how he runs his agency, how he gets his clients, how he creates his advert
Jul 18, 2010 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
This book is fascinating on many levels. First, that parts of it are even still relevant today as it laments about the lack of research on this crazy new medium called 'television' and warns against food commercials because they look so unappealing in black and white. Second, that Ogilvy makes advertising look like a noble profession, and as the way he practiced it, it was noble indeed. He did not believe in hawking products that he didn't believe in. He did not think of the 'consumer' as some r ...more
May 17, 2010 F.R. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Mad Men this ain’t.

A vainglorious book which glides through all the successes of David Ogilvy’s career (until this book’s 1963 publication) and shows the wonderful lessons there are to be learned. Inevitably dated and not only because advertising has moved on, few people these days write business books assuming an all male audience and at points getting the readers to ponder what their wives may think.

The truly frustrating thing is that there is an interesting story buried here, how did a Brit w
Peter Tieryas
Nov 11, 2013 Peter Tieryas rated it it was amazing
"This is more like an Art of War of marketing which you read in segments. Only, the philosophy is more genteel and pacific than Sun Tzu’s epic. I took it in small doses, like a thousand commercials compacted into one book." Full review at my blog.

First update I wrote about halfway through the book:

Great book, not just about marketing, but a modern philosophy to life. Some favorite quotes are:

“When Fortune published an article about me and titled it: “
Satyam Sai
Feb 27, 2014 Satyam Sai rated it it was ok
The reason I’ve always been interested in advertising despite the silly consumerist culture it so strongly promotes, is because I find an amusement in the way the lies are told, a method in which truth is fabricated and an immensely satisfying pleasure in the art that is created.

As of learning, there can be two options before you:
One – observe the advertisements around you. (It's abundant to the point of nausea!)
Two – Read this book.
Not exactly equivalent choices but if you are a true Tarantin
Alan Kercinik
Jun 17, 2012 Alan Kercinik rated it really liked it
Full disclosure: I work at Ogilvy. Be that as it may, this is a book well worth reading, if only because so much of it is relevant today, if you know where to look.

This is a man who was so out in front of authenticity, story-mining and storytelling, it's not even funny. Read his Rolls Royce ad to find out how to mine for content hooks. Look at his Hathaway shirt ads to find out how to create a character that could be a brand's social voice. And read his stories about counseling clients to find o
Paul Bard
Feb 16, 2014 Paul Bard rated it it was amazing
The perfect blend of style, experience, and research, this book presents the essential qualities of advertising, both the personal, practical, and formal.

But it a book to be discussed, not chewed privately. The tone is conversational and the insights have little regard for theory or numbered steps or formulas for success in the field; they must be run through verbally.

The author's candor and stolid excellence as a writer more than qualify him as a master of his field.
Apr 10, 2012 Phil rated it really liked it
Even today (in 2012), this insight is brilliantly accurate:

"I have never wanted to get an account so big that I could not afford to lose it. The day you do that, you commit yourself to living with fear. Frightened agencies lose the courage to give candid advice; once you lose that, you become a lackey."

In my software/web startup experience over the last 12 years, this is absolutely true. Putting yourself and your company in this position will result in inevitable failure.
Oct 03, 2007 Spencer rated it liked it
I want to love this, because I'm supposed to, but it's really starting to get a little dated. There are a few essential guidelines here about being an honest, forthright businessperson, but the culture of the consumer has changed so radically in the 50 years since this book was published that the rest of it is sometimes hard to find an application for. Still, Ogilvy's personality makes it a fun read, and it will always be essential reading if you're in the advertising business.
Mar 25, 2008 Charlotte rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-recommend
David Ogilvy is, of course, a classic and a class act. Since advertising is my field, I took some practical pointers from this book, and also heard some of my own instincts confirmed (you have to love your clients like family, buy their products, etc.). But I think someone not in the industry would get something out of this as well. He was 'the man' during the great generation of ad men, which was an exciting and iconic time in our American culture.
Ryan Chapman
Sep 04, 2008 Ryan Chapman rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
When my coworkers saw this on my desk, two of them separately noted surprise I hadn't already read it.

It's certainly insightful, and a nice (accidental) companion piece to my current Mad Men adoration. While the tone is just a little too self-congratulatory, Ogilvy fills his text to the brim with the sort of anecdotes and lists of rules you'd want in such a book. Highly recommended for anyone in love with/critical of American capitalism!
Apr 23, 2010 Themistocles rated it liked it
Certainly interesting, oftentimes intriguing, especially for marketeers.

But, many of the tissues and practices that Ogilvy broaches are outdated, and hence the significance of the book lies in its historical context. Also, Ogilvy himself more often than not come through as a snotty and snob individual, which kind of diminishes the enjoyment of the book.
Oct 09, 2011 Monica rated it did not like it
Creative genius or not, David Ogilvy was a bit too pompous for my taste. Add to that overt misogynistic comments and outdated rules for creating advertising, and this book took me straight to Yawnsville. Although, I did really enjoy the bit about not treating your consumer like a moron. That still makes perfect sense.
Daniel Taylor
Jun 25, 2016 Daniel Taylor rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Entrepreneurs, marketers, copywriters
Recommended to Daniel by: Dan Kennedy
Advertising and marketing would be a very different beast if copywriters and ad agencies followed the principles in this book. It's a masterwork for a reason. Read it. Do it. Sell more.
May 24, 2012 Josh rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business, advertising
Not as applicable as it was, say, 50 years ago, but there are some quality nuggets of advice lurking within these pages. Well worth the read, if but from a historical perspective.
Ryan Glass
Oct 27, 2014 Ryan Glass rated it it was amazing
Probably the best book I've read in years. Took it with me across Europe and couldn't put it down. I took several pages of notes just on the first chapter.
May 15, 2016 Gabriel rated it it was amazing
Leitura rápida e agradável. Interessante compreender a visão de uma das mentes influentes da publicidade ainda na década de 1960.
Muito válidos ainda hoje alguns dos principios que ele apresenta sobre como conquistar e reter clientes.
O capítulo sobre como ser um bom cliente é bem instrutivo sobre qual o papel da agência e qual é o do cliente e como obter o melhor resultado nesta relação.
Finalmente, todos os pontos defendidos por ele para uma comunicação eficiente valem ser considerados. O curios
Sep 15, 2014 Andy rated it it was ok
The Donald Trump of advertising, both in success and ego.
Omar Halabieh
Nov 22, 2015 Omar Halabieh rated it it was amazing
I recently finished reading Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy.

Below are key excerpts from the book that I found to be particularly insightful:

Today, the world of advertising faces four problems of crisis dimensions. The first problem is that manufacturers of package-goods products, which have always been the mainstay of advertising, are spending twice as much on price-off deals as on advertising...The second problem is that advertising agencies, notably in Britain, France, and t
Henry Barry
This book used to be sold, but the author stopped selling it and tells people to get it as a torrent if they want it. He doesn’t need the money anyway. This is one of the most incredible books I’ve read in a very long time. The book is short but filled with truth. Peña is probably one of the toughest guys in the business world, and shares a lot of knowledge. This book is really two things: a motivational kick in the dick, and a guide to making a lot of money through a combination of private equi ...more
Sean Goh
Dec 10, 2014 Sean Goh rated it it was amazing
A candid, down to earth how-to-do quality business with integrity and honesty.

It was inspiring to work under a supreme master.

Today I praise my staff as rarely as Picard praised his chefs, in the hope that they too will appreciate it more than a steady gush of appreciation.

In the best establishments, promises are always kept, whatever it may cost in agony and overtime.

But brains are not enough unless they are combined with intellectual honesty.

Ten minutes after crossing a potential hire's
My Linh Tran
May 27, 2014 My Linh Tran rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite, advertising
I am normally very impatient with non-fiction books, but this one is different. I was totally absolutely consumed by it. Sure Ogilvy won me over with his magnificent enthralling writing style.
This book is extremely eye-opening. I've learned not just things that I didn't know, but more importantly, the fact that I was wrong all along. I used to wish that one day I would be able to make "brilliant", captivating ads like those saw on, but then I realized while reading this book that some
Sep 29, 2012 Vasilena rated it really liked it
The first book by good old David Ogilvy, one of the forefathers of modern advertising and marketing research. And what can we say? He is brilliant. Of course, mind the fact that Ogilvy later admitted his first books was just a means to gain more clients, so do not take all he says literally. In a way it is a pitch, and so are the majority of books written by industry people while they are still gainfully employed in the industry they represent. Also be mindful to the times - he wrote his first b ...more
1. Choose your clients carefully and cultivate long-term relationships with them.

2. Build your business by being a lasting, valuable partner to your clients.

3. Be honest in your advertisements and your business dealings – you’ll do better in the long run.

4. Surround yourself with more intelligent and creative people.

5. Lead by example.

How to create great Ad campaign?

6. Your ads should sell products not entertain the people.

Use words like "New" and "Free."

7. To get people’s attention, use facts,
Xiaofei Guo
Nov 01, 2012 Xiaofei Guo rated it it was amazing
Shelves: presentation
The author is straightforward and candid. The book can be divided into four parts:

1. Business. He talks about how to run a creative agency and how to maintain the customer relationship.
2. Technical. He talks about how to write good potent copies, TV commercials, advertisements, and posters.
3. Advice. He gives valuable advice to the young who wants to succeed. His advice is quite general and applies to many other creative fields too.
4. Discussion. Should advertisement be abolished? Does it incre
Jun 15, 2010 astried rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
Eventhough I'm not working in this field, the first part about fishing for client and how to manage an advertising agency was really useful and as he said could be implemented for all kinds of design offices.

The rest of the book was an interesting insight on advertising industry in the 60's. Reading it was like glimpsing a view to an extinct world. Although the general principle might still be valid, I doubt the guidances mentioned inside are still in use. His insistence on presenting as much f
Apr 04, 2016 Jack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't read a whole lot of nonfiction or business books, but this is a fun little time capsule with a lot of marketing nuggets that still hold true from the days when TV was a new medium for advertisers.

A few standout lines including, "You don't have to be a Christian to behave like a gentleman!"
Simone Bocedi
Feb 26, 2016 Simone Bocedi rated it it was amazing
OH MY. where to start?

1- I have never, ever, underlined so much in one single book, not even during my school time. If you work in advertising there is so much good stuff in here that it should be a must-read for any new employee of any ad agency (or marketing position inside a company). He gives so many advices and quotes and one-liners that are still very much valid today.

2- if you're into Mad Men, THIS IS IT: David Ogilvy was a Madison Avenue ad man in the 50s and 60s, among drunken lunches,
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Tested Advertising Methods
  • Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to Creating Great Ads
  • Truth, Lies, and Advertising: The Art of Account Planning
  • The Art of Writing Advertising: Conversations with Masters of the Craft: David Ogilvy, William Bernbach, Leo Burnett, Rosser Reeves,
  • My Life in Advertising and Scientific Advertising
  • From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor
  • Cutting Edge Advertising: How to Create the World's Best for Brands in the 21st Century
  • Advertising Secrets of the Written Word: The Ultimate Resource on How to Write Powerful Advertising Copy from One of America's Top Copywriters and Mail Order Entrepreneurs
  • Hegarty on Advertising
  • Breakthrough Advertising
  • The Idea Writers: Copywriting in a New Media and Marketing Era
  • Creative Advertising: Ideas and Techniques from the World's Best Campaigns
  • Bill Bernbach's Book: A History of Advertising That Changed the History of Advertising
  • A Big Life In Advertising
  • Hoopla
  • The Advertising Concept Book
  • The Anatomy of Buzz: How to Create Word of Mouth Marketing
  • The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding: How to Build a Product or Service Into a World-Class Brand
David Mackenzie Ogilvy was 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 s
More about David Ogilvy...

Share This Book

“The consumer isn't a moron. She is your wife.” 33 likes
“The creative process requires more than reason. Most original thinking isn't even verbal. It requires 'a groping experimentation with ideas, governed by intuitive hunches and inspired by the unconscious.' The majority of business men are incapable of original thinking because they are unable to escape from the tyranny of reason. Their imaginations are blocked.” 20 likes
More quotes…