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Ogilvy on Advertising

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  8,416 ratings  ·  341 reviews
A candid and indispensable primer on all aspects of advertising from the man Time has called "the most sought after wizard in the business". 223 photos.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published March 12th 1985 by Vintage (first published 1983)
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Average rating 4.18  · 
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Trang Ngo
May 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, creativity
What I have learnt from Ogilvy on Advertising

- black letter on white background!!! the reverse does not work

- do research on what the audience wants to see, do not just base on your preference

- if it does not sell, it isn’t creative

- order of print ad: picture, headlines, subheadlines, words (that’s what the audience's mind wants)

- there are many advertising agencies because one can not work for its clients’ competitors

- long-term contract with clients is crucial to the business

- keep track of t
Sep 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
I've had this book in my shelves for a couple years and finally sat down to begin reading it recently. And I'm so, so, soooo mad at myself because I wish I had read this immediately when I first picked it up!

Although it was written decades ago and contains information that will be construed as outdated (especially since the look of advertising has definitely changed substantially), a lot of it is still sound and relevant. I don't work in advertising, but I was thinking of a ton of areas where th
Lubinka Dimitrova
Quite an insightful and utterly engrossing read, although it would have been even more interesting if we could read his opinions about the current state of advertising. I enjoyed his writing a lot, and his main points still hold up well. Sadly, his prediction about giant billboards and deception in political advertisement becoming obsolete was very, very wrong...

Thank goodness I had previously read Simon Garfield's Just My Type, otherwise I would have never been able to appreciate why sans seri
Mar 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book was a required reading for my studies; very informative and interesting. A great book on advertising.
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, business
I almost didn't read this book because I thought it would be too dated - but for a book that's 35 years old, there's a lot of information that has held up well (and a lot that didn't lol).

Obviously there was no internet, no social media, no personal computers, no smartphones, no satellite radio or streaming services in the early 80s - so advertising has changed a good deal, but a lot of the principles are the same.

A few things I wrote down for myself out of this book:
Ogilvy used to nested Rus
Mar 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Erika by: Rory Hodgson
Shelves: non-fiction
Ogilvy is brilliant. Even with the advent of the internet, the core of advertising remains the same because basic human motives remain the same, and what he has to say is still very relevant.

While the rest of the book is packed with time-honored strategies and tips, his talent is especially evident in the chapter dedicated to past advertising giants.

This might seem like a fluff chapter to those people just looking to absorb facts, but it is far more valuable – he is showing you how to communic
Stephanie H
Nov 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
If you've ever been interested in working at an ad agency, if you've ever worked at an ad agency, or if you ever had a strong affinity for the Mastercard Priceless (McCann Erickson) or the Got Milk campaign (Goodby Silverstein), you must read this book. Not only does David Ogilvy give great advice from inside the business, but he presents his wonderfully written copy with the best parts of a vintage Life magazine (the pictures). Ogilvy clearly states the best steps for breaking into the business ...more
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I am not in an advertising business, and read this book out of curiosity. It changed my view on what advertising is.

Key ideas:

 The purpose of advertising is to sell. Advertising can be called “Sales in print”.
 The most creative advertisement is not necessarily the most effective one.
 The more you know the product the more there is a chance that you will come up with a big idea
 Advertising can be considered
 People don’t buy commodities, they buy images (Jack Daniels – is it really better
Nov 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Advertisers and Designers
If you want to have ANYTHING to do with advertising, you must read this book. If you want to have ANYTHING to do with graphic design, you must have something to do with advertising...
Jan 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Highly informative and wonderfully written. Its full of personal anecdotes and glossy photos.
Oct 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Lots of ideas in here that still hold true today. Two of my favorites:

- "The brand image is 90 percent of what the distiller has to sell. ... Give people a taste of Old Crow, and tell them it's Old Crow. Then give them another taste of Old Crow, but tell them it's Jack Daniel's. Ask them which they prefer. They'll think the two drinks are quite different. They are tasting images."

- "Big ideas come from the unconscious. This is true in art, in science, and in advertising. But your unconsciousness
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Well he's definitely a salesperson, I'll give you that.

One afternoon my friend asked me to source for her a book on advertising called On Advertising. I found the book for her and on a whim (attracted by the beautiful pictures in the first few pages, good one David) bought a copy for myself.

Now I'm no student or fan of marketing or advertising or copywriting. In fact, my stance before this book, on people who worked with marketing, was positively negative. I thought that they were a whole bunch
Cristian  Morales
Apr 01, 2016 rated it it was ok
I´m much more keen on propaganda than advertising nowadays. However, I enjoyed re-reading this book a lot. I had read this years ago for an introductory class on advertising. It´s required reading for any publicist since it develops fundamental concepts about the trade that David learned through experience and research.

The chapter on ´Competing with Procter & Gamble´ and the description of their methods was my favorite.


The 道 of ethics in advertising.
Alvaro Berrios
Aug 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's pretty astonishing how relevant so much of this is in today's hyper-digital age. David Ogilvy was working with magazines, TV commercials and newspaper ads...not the sexiest stuff by today's standards. However, the simplicity in his approach and understanding of human behavior can absolutely be applied to today's digital advertising. GREAT for learning effective and convincing copy writing. It was also just cool to learn about this history of some of the old ad firms.
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
An entertaining read, with Ogilvy's candid takes on the importance of market research, what constitutes as a good/bad ads, international nuances, and some of his mistakes in the journey.

Most interestingly, some of the best practices he noted in the book are still relevant today.
Sonam  Puri
Jul 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
You can read it hundred times.
Erin Bomboy
Jul 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Ogilvy on Advertising was published in the '80s, and it shows its age. This is because legendary ad-man David Ogilvy has predictions and opinions, most of which did not and will not ever come to pass. Apparently, print advertising is going to make a comeback, and people love reading long tracts of text. Most of the ads he references (whether by him or other firms) are hilariously out-of-date, and as you can imagine, they depict a world populated solely by white, cisgender, wealthy people. He's a ...more
Nov 02, 2017 added it
Shelves: new-in-2017
I would be fascinated to hear his thoughts on advertising today. This book enters the early 1980s, but is concentrated largely on 50s & 60s evidence. At the insistence of his publisher, Ogilvy included a page of short predictions for the future, one of which was the total disappearance of the hated billboard. How he would loathe the digital boards of today, which are even more intrusive than the simple “same picture for a month” billboards of my youth. Lots of interesting insight into how his mi ...more
Machiel Reyneke
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ilia Markov
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A must-read for anyone interested in advertising AND writing
Michael Girdley
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
A bit dated these days but some really insightful wisdom in here.
Hadi Zaman
Dec 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very good book!

Very crisp and easy to read. Learned many important lessons from an inspiring man.
Mar 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My Bible for advertising! This book should be read more than once!
Leticia Supple
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is an outstanding book.

I picked it up in a run of second hand classics by people who began their lives as copywriters, because some of our best mentors are those in books. It didn’t disappoint; in fact, it was so devoid of bullshit and wankery that I’m now keen to read Ogilvy’s first book, Confessions.

David Ogilvy built one of the world’s largest advertising companies. And as much as we like to think that content, content strategy, Internet, online materials, etc, are unique, they’re not. T
Sep 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: insights on advertising from the legend
Shelves: advertising
David Ogilvy is a class apart in advertising..

“At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.” who can ever forget this ad that made David Ogilvy famous..

the story goes that rolls royce gave the campaign brief as 'create an ad that people would read and never forget..' and with a very tight budget..

Ogilvy's stress on research was at the forefront of the campaign..
Very few professionals in the advertising laid so much stress on research and data to be
Aaron Gertler
Jun 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
David Ogilvy is one of the great marketing geniuses of the 20th century, and he also built a company that remains successful to this day. His secret? Using lots of numbers to test folk wisdom. Here, he shares those numbers with you and explains why people who say otherwise are wrong. Then he shows you a picture of the castle he owns in Scotland, in case you needed extra proof.

This was my second-best marketing book of 2014, after Getting Everything You Can Out of All You've Got: 21 Ways You Can O
Edith Yeghiazaryan
Jan 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: digital-business
Either this book is overrated, or my expectations were too high.

-gives info about how advertising worked in the past (the book is written in the 1990s)
-several marketing tips can still work
-the conversational tone of voice; easy to read

- you will find a lot of out outdated info
- several chapters are dedicated to starting a career in advertising
- very few chapters were informative
Mihnea Gheorghiță
Jul 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Great insights from the man who quite possibly set a lot of industry standards! While it's a shame that some of his practices, tips or bits of advice no longer apply, most of them can be reinterpreted and used in today's digital advertising age.

A refreshing must read for both aspiring advertisers as well as industry veterans who may feel like their creative run's almost up.
Aug 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
wanna know basic knowledge of 'evilish' advertising? this is your bible, written by lord of advertising, spiced-up with outstanding award-winning ads samples. it's a gift from a buddy Dedeng, he got it from Mac909
Simone Bocedi
Feb 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Confessions was a masterpiece. This was probably a big hit in the 80es, but nowadays makes close to no sense. There a lot of good one liners and I still enjoyed his writings, but there is too much data and advices that are not anymore valid 30 years afterwards. I'd love an updated version of this.
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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

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“If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants.” 23 likes
“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.” 19 likes
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