David Ogilvy

23 Jun 1911 // 21 Jul 1999
Advertising Executive


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What really decides consumers to buy or not to buy is the content of your advertising, not its form.
The majority of businessmen are incapable of original thought because they are unable to escape from the tyranny of reason.

Quoted in The Creative Organisation (1965)
I want all our people to believe they are working for the best agency in the world. A sense of pride works wonders.

Principles of Management (1968)
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.

Ogilvy on Advertising (1983)
Some people use research like a drunkard uses a lamppost: for support not illumination.
Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals.
I notice increasing reluctance on the part of marketing executives to use judgment; they are coming to rely too much on research, and they use it as a drunkard uses a lamp post for support, rather than for illumination.
The pursuit of excellence is less profitable than the pursuit of bigness, but it can be more satisfying.
The best leaders are apt to be found among those executives who have a strong component of unorthodoxy in their characters. Instead of resisting innovation, they symbolize it.

Ogilvy on Advertising (1983)
The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.
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On Anger: "For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind."
On Destiny: "Our destiny exercises its influence over us even when, as yet, we have not learned its nature: it is our future that lays down the law of our today."
Human, All Too Human
On Friendship: "A crowd is not company; and faces are but a gallery of pictures; and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love."