Ogilvy on Advertising: Review and Summary Notes

Ogilvy on Advertising

Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy

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Ogilvy on Advertising


This book is the seminal introduction to marketing. Start here even if you’ve done “marketing” before, and even if you’ve read other marketing and copywriting books.

Ogilvy follows his own advice by putting the important copy up front: the first two chapters are gold; the rest is just details for specific situations and you can skip if you just want the big picture.

Selected Quotes

The wrong advertising can actually reduce the sales of a product. I am told that George Hay Brown, at one time head of marketing research at Ford, inserted advertisements in every other copy of the Reader’s Digest. At the end of the year, the people who had not been exposed to the advertising had bought more Fords than those who had.

First, study the product you are going to advertise. The more you know about it, the more likely you are to come up with a big idea for selling it. When I got the Rolls-Royce account, I spent three weeks reading about the car and came across a statement that ‘at sixty miles an hour, the loudest noise comes from the electric clock.’ This became the headline, and it was followed by 607 words of factual copy.

If you are too lazy to do this kind of homework, you may occasionally luck into a successful campaign, but you will run the risk of skidding about on what my brother Francis called ‘the slippery surface of irrelevant brilliance.’

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.


On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy. It follows that unless your headline sells your product, you have wasted 90 per cent of your money.

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