David Ogilvy Quotes

Marketing pioneer and creative genius, founder of Ogilvy and Mather and frequently mentioned on ABC’s hit TV-show Mad Men, David Ogilvy represents the beginning of a trade that was not only foreseen by Napoleon Hill in the classic Think and Grow Rich, but in many ways have come to define business as we know it. What is more, Ogilvy is one of many university dropouts that prove that it is entirely possible to become successful – and even define a market in the making, without a degree.

These David Ogilvy quotes are examples of timeless principles that work, and a window into the mind of a man who is widely considered the “father of advertising.”

“Compete with the immortals”

– David Ogilvy

“I don’t believe in tricky advertising, I don’t believe in cute advertising, I don’t believe in comic advertising. The people who perpetrate that kind of advertising never had to sell anything in their lives”

– David Ogilvy

“Tell the truth, but make the truth fascinating. You know you can’t bore people into buying you product, you can only interest them into buying it”

– David Ogilvy

“If you can’t advertise yourself, what hope have you being able to advertise anything else”

– David Ogilvy

“Be more ambitious. Don’t bunt. When you get a job to do a story or an ad, try and hit the ball out of the park every time”

– David Ogilvy

“Good ad; all facts. No adjectives. All specifics. Sold a lot of cars”

– David Ogilvy

“Try and inject into every commercial you make a touch of singularity; a bird that will hook on to the consumers mind”

– David Ogilvy

“The more story-appeal there is in the picture or in the photograph, the more people would look at your ad”

– David Ogilvy

“It lasted 19 years that campaign, because it’s pretty good advertising. Apart from the eye-patch, the copy is very good. It’s all about the product. We don’t mess around”

– David Ogilvy

“The more you tell, the more you sell”

– David Ogilvy

“Try and get great ideas, great ideas that nobody has ever had before will last for years”

– David Ogilvy

“If you have a truly big idea, the wrong technique won’t kill it. And if you don’t have a big idea, the right technique won’t help you”

– David Ogilvy

“It’s the lack of ambition that cripples most people, and makes them so pedestrian in the advertising/creative business”

– David Ogilvy

“The general advertisers and their agencies know almost nothing for sure, because they cannot measure the results of their advertising. They worship at the altar of creativity, which really means ‘originality’: The most dangerous word in the lexicon of advertising”

– David Ogilvy

“When I was twenty-five I took a correspondence course in direct-mail. I bought it out of my own pocket. Directresponse is my first love, and later it became my secret weapon. When I started Ogilvy and Mather in New York, nobody had heard of this. But we were airborne within 6 months and grew at record speed”

– David Ogilvy

“Every 4 weeks I’d send personalized mailings to our new business prospects. And I was always amazed to discover how many of our clients had been attracted to Ogilvy and Mather by those mailings. That is how we grew”

– David Ogilvy

“Nobody should be allowed to create general advertising until he has served his apprenticeship in direct-response”

– David Ogilvy

“Consumers still buy products whose advertising promises them value for money, beauty, nutrition, relief from suffering, social status and so on. All over the world”

– David Ogilvy

“The trouble with many copywriters in general agencies are that they don’t really think in terms of selling. They have never written direct-response; they have never tasted blood”

– David Ogilvy

“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”

– David Ogilvy

“My motto has always been: Only first class business and that in a first class way”

– David Ogilvy

“I hate rules”

– David Ogilvy

“I have noticed that agencies which are full of fun and ferment seem to create the best advertising. If you are not happy in advertising, for goodness sake find a job in which you would be happy. For as far as I know, we pass this way only once”

– David Ogilvy

“Unless your advertising has a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night”

– David Ogilvy

“I’d like to be remembered, as a copywriter who had some big ideas. That’s what the advertising business is all about. Big ideas”

– David Ogilvy