I haven’t had much time to read for pleasure due to my British Literature class, but when I do, I make it count. Recently, I finished reading Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy during my trip to Chicago and I highly recommend it. This book gives advice on topics such as how to start an agency, run an agency, be a good client and tips on how to tackle several advertising mediums.
One of my goals for this blog was to write book reviews over books relevant to PR because not only will it help me remember the important points, but it will also allow you all to get a snip it to make you want to read it yourself.
The first chapter begins with Ogilvy describing his experience working at a restaurant and the valuable lessons he learned that he applied to his agency. He points out the similarities between managing a restaurant and an agency. Both require great leaders to manage everything from top to bottom. Ogilvy describes the qualities necessary to run an agency, such as delegating appropriately, the ability to deal with pressure, hard work, ability to find talent and train them (mainly creative people), as well as other qualities which you’re going to have to read to find out.
He also has a chapter dedicated on how to get clients. He describes the initial difficulty his agency went through because he didn’t have the credentials and history of success as other firms did. When his agency started, he initiated a plan such as meeting with reporters, made no more than two speeches a year, build valuable relationships with various people, sent progress reports to people as the agency continued to improve. At first, He took every account he could get, but kept his eye on the “big dogs.” He had to work harder than others to get respect, but it worked. Once he’s successful, he’s able to pick and choose which accounts he wants to take on. Ogilvy has 10 criteria that must be met before taking on clients. The following chapter discusses how to keep clients. One point that resonated with me is the effect of losing a client. What if other clients find out? They might begin to question their partnership. If it’s a high profile client, the media might report it making matters worse. What about jobs? Can they afford to keep the people who worked on that account? Those are topics to think about. Ogilvy provides four guidelines to decrease your chance in losing a client. He also discusses other issues relating to clients. He finishes the “client section” with a chapter on how to be a good client. In this chapter, he outlines 15 guidelines he would abide by if he were a client.
The next part of the book mentions various skills beginning with how to build a campaign. He talks about the fine line in being creative and disciplined when creating campaigns. He uses poetic rules and literary elements as an example. They have formal rules, but it still allows for creativity. There are three “schools” of advertising rules, but he states that he belongs in the third one: “A good advertisement is one which sells the product without drawing attention to itself. It should rivet the reader’s attention on the product.” (page 108). He also lists five sources to research such as mail-order advertisements, looking at campaigns from other companies and determining what was successful and what wasn’t, research done about factors which make people read and remember advertisements, TV ad research and picking the brains of predecessors and competitors. He then goes on to mention 11 commandments which he and his employers must abide by. His commandments are
- What you say is more important than how you say it
- Unless the campaign is built around a great idea, it will flop
- Give the facts
- You can’t bore people into buying
- Be well-mannered, don’t be a clown
- Make your advertising contemporary
- Committees can criticize advertisements, but they cannot write them
- If you’re lucky enough to write a good advertisement, repeat until it stops pulling
- Never write an advertisement with which you wouldn’t want your family to read (main point, don’t lie!)
- The image and the brand
- Don’t copy or plagiarize
To get a more detailed glimpse into all these points, read the book.
The next chapter discusses how to write good copy. He mentions the importance of writing good headlines (which he provides 10 tips to make a headline strong) and body copy (nine guidelines for this topic). The following chapter describes the process of creating advertisements and posters. Some key points in creating advertisements are using color, avoiding historical subjects, using photographs instead of drawings, avoiding closeups (but do show a face is possible), making the logo twice the size and keeping it simple (avoid crowds). He also provides 14 guidelines to increase viewership. He then switches gears to talk about posters. Never use more than three elements in the design and they are meant to be seen quickly. Use large fonts, preferably sans-serif. He also has chapters devoted to creating good TV commercials and creating campaigns for food products, tourism and proprietary medicines. He provides detailed guidelines on each topic.
He also has two chapters on how to rise to the top and a chapter questioning whether or not advertising should be abolished.
I give this book 5/5 stars because not only was it enjoyable to read, but it provided valuable insights on how to be effective in the advertising industry. His book is filled with many tips, so I definitely recommend everyone read it.