How David Ogilvy wrote copy

16 replies
For copywriters, this ought to be pretty interesting:

Letters of Note: I am a lousy copywriter

- Rick Duris
#copy #copyranger #david #david olgilvy #olgilvy #rick duris #wrote
  • Profile picture of the author ChrisKahler
    I found that really interesting to read...

    For some reason I'm almost more interested in other copywriter's personal writing methods than their "formulas" for how to construct great copy, and such.

    To me learning their approach to the writing process gives me more insight than anything else.

    Thanks Rick, great share!
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    • Profile picture of the author RickDuris
      Originally Posted by ChrisKahler View Post

      I found that really interesting to read...

      For some reason I'm almost more interested in other copywriter's personal writing methods than their "formulas" for how to construct great copy, and such.

      To me learning their approach to the writing process gives me more insight than anything else.

      Thanks Rick, great share!
      If you like that, pick up Stephen King's On Writing. For you, it's essential.

      - Rick Duris
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  • Profile picture of the author abugah
    Great stuff there.

    It reminds me of the fact that when you see a great headline like: At 60 miles an Hour... Twenty other headlines were written but never used.

    In addition, the writer went through 20 years of ads, wrote and edited several times before the ad appeared in Newspapers.

    Perhaps this process of writing great copy should be brought to the attention of business owners who complain of hefty copy fees.

    I guess they will appreciate why a copywriter demands $5,000 for writing just 1500 words.
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  • Profile picture of the author Pusateri
    That's taken from The Unpublished David Ogilvy, a wonderful little book of memos he wrote to his employees at Ogilvy & Mather. There's much more treasure there.
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  • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
    Banned
    Let us not forget - Ogilvy never claimed to be creative.
    In fact, he said "Stupid *******s, aren't they?" about those who called him a creative genius. (Direct magazine October, 1991 article by Andy Byrne.)
    He was a salesman above all else.
    Robert Rosenthal
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  • Profile picture of the author abugah
    Perhaps it might be interesting to note that on page 59 of the book, Confessions of an Advertising Man, David Ogilvy says he used to work from dawn to midnight six days a week.

    Why?

    Because he was poor and unknown, but in hurry to build his agency.

    In just 15 years, he moved from an obscure Pennsylvania tobacco farmer to the head of an ad agency with billings of $55 million a year (about $410 million in today’s dollars). In addition, this agency had an annual payroll of about $ 5 million with offices in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Toronto.

    That may explain how this man booked himself a place in the advertising hall of fame.
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    • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
      Banned
      Originally Posted by abugah View Post

      Perhaps it might be interesting to note that on page 59 of the book, Confession of an Advertising Man, David Ogilvy says he used to work from dawn to midnight six days a week.

      Why?

      Because he was poor and unknown, but in hurry to build his agency.

      In just 15 years, he moved from an obscure Pennsylvania tobacco farmer to the head of an ad agency with billings of $55 million a year (about $410 million in today’s dollars). In addition, this agency had an annual payroll of about $ 5 million with offices in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Toronto.

      That may explain how this man booked himself a place in the advertising hall of fame.
      "Confessions" not "Confession".

      Amazon.com: Confessions of an Advertising Man...Amazon.com: Confessions of an Advertising Man...
      Every so often, Ogilvy would send each of his directors a set of Russian nesting dolls, where inside the largest doll would be a small one, and then a smaller one, and so on. In the smallest doll, he would place a piece of paper that read: “If we hire people who are smaller than we are, we will become a company of dwarfs. If we hire people who are larger than we are, we’ll become a company of giants.”
      BTW Ogilvy was never "poor". His father was a stockbroker...he was educated at private schools and then Oxford University...worked at Mather & Crowley - a British Ad firm - before the war. Emigrated to the US during the war where he worked for British Intelligence. He dabbled for 3 years with a tobacco farm he bought in Amish country - then started his own agency in 1948 - with the backing of his old firm Mather & Crowley.
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      • Profile picture of the author abugah
        Originally Posted by The Copy Nazi View Post

        Thanks for pointing that out.

        While we are still on typos, have you noticed the thread headline is ''Re: How David Olgilvy wrote copy''

        The advertising man was called DAVID OGILVY not OLGILVY.

        Or are there two different spellings of the name?
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        • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
          Banned
          Originally Posted by abugah View Post

          Thanks for pointing that out.

          While we are still on typos, have you noticed the thread headline is ''Re: How David Olgilvy wrote copy''

          The advertising man was called DAVID OGILVY not OLGILVY.

          Or are there two different spellings of the name?
          Touché. I missed it. Duris is di...die...dyslect...dyslectick...dyslexic. I tink. Doot-to-door.
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      • Profile picture of the author abugah
        Originally Posted by The Copy Nazi View Post

        "Confessions" not "Confession".

        Amazon.com: Confessions of an Advertising Man (9780689708008): David Ogilvy: Books

        BTW Ogilvy was never "poor". His father was a stockbroker...he was educated at private schools and then Oxford University...worked at Mather & Crowley - a British Ad firm - before the war. Emigrated to the US during the war where he worked for British Intelligence. He dabbled for 3 years with a tobacco farm he bought in Amish country - then started his own agency in 1948 - with the backing of his old firm Mather & Crowley.
        The impression I get from the book is that he didn't have access to big resources. In fact, he says, ''I was poor, unknown and in a hurry.'' (paragraph one, page 59)

        Anyway poor is a relative term.
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        • Profile picture of the author Zero
          Drayton Bird was a very close friend of David Ogilvy - he had some great stories about him in an interview he did with Michael Senoff:

          Drayton Bird Interview Free mp3 Download

          Its not entirely about Ogivly, but its a great listen from a legend in his own right
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  • Profile picture of the author RickDuris
    I didn't realize there was so much interest and appreciation about information about David Ogilvy. Thanks for the thanks.

    If you want to know more about David Ogilvy, here's a short, just-the-facts, yet detailed biography of him:

    David Ogilvy

    One of the pivotal points in his life, he worked for Aga. There, he sold cookware door-to-door.

    He also wrote Aga's sales training manual:

    The Theory and Practice of Selling the AGA Cooker Sales Training Manual

    It rocks, doesn't it? And to think he was only 24 when he wrote it.

    - Rick Duris
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  • Profile picture of the author RickDuris
    If you only knew Mal, if you only knew. But thanks anyway for the tip. - Rick Duris

    PS: For Ogilvy to say he was lousy, for me, is a pretty humbling feeling. I mean compared to him, what does that make me?

    Makes me want to work harder.
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    • Profile picture of the author Danielle Lynn
      Originally Posted by RickDuris View Post

      If you only knew Mal, if you only knew. But thanks anyway for the tip. - Rick Duris

      PS: For Ogilvy to say he was lousy, for me, is a pretty humbling feeling. I mean compared to him, what does that make me?

      Makes me want to work harder.
      Absolutely agree with you here Rick.

      I've seen time and time again that humility and success go hand in hand.

      Business people who are humble seem to keep that "always a student" mentality that helps them adapt to market fluctuations and setbacks.

      Thinking that you know it all is one of the best ways to shoot yourself in the leg.

      Really enjoyed the Ogilvy letter share.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ross Bowring
    "Ogilvy On Advertising" is one of my favorite books, like, ever.

    I feel an affinity for the man because when I got off the boat from England I also settled in Amish country.

    But, I digress...

    What I've always taken from his ads is their great charm. Dollops of it.

    --- Ross
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