8 Best David Ogilvy Quotes On Advertising

Adweek magazine asked people in the business “Which individuals – alive or dead – made you consider pursuing a career in advertising?” and David Ogilvy topped the list.

David Ogilvy, generally considered the “Father of Advertising”, achieved many great accomplishments in the business world. He started one of the most successful advertising agencies in the world, Ogilvy & Mather. He published a best-selling and one of the most famous books on advertising, “Confessions of an Advertising Man.” Ogilvy also created some of the most famous advertising campaigns for large brands, such as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico campaign. This made waves in the 1950s with print ads by Ogilvy & Mather that presented beautiful scenes shot by a 26-year-old photographer named Elliott Erwitt.

Regardless of whether or not you are in the advertising industry, your company can benefit from the wisdom of David Ogilvy. Below the best quotes from David Ogilvy to help spread your brand’s unique message to consumers in an effective manner.

1. “Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.” 

No matter how good your advertising is, there’s always room for improvement. That’s why testing is so important. Modern tools such as real-time analytics, measurement programs, and extensive data sets make it easier than ever to see where you’re succeeding, and where you’re falling short. You may have developed a wildly popular campaign, but it can always get better. Complacency only breeds stagnation. Testing shows the markets in which you’re lacking, so you can more aggressively target them.

RESOURCE: Learn how to set-up a PPC advertisement from scratch. PPC Ads are a great way to test your advertising copy and messaging while running split tests!

2. “Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them to get on with it. Look for people who will aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine.”

When working in a manager position, it’s critical that you surround yourself with the best, then give them space to work. Trust yourself, your judgment, and your employee’s abilities. If you hire someone excellent, they’ll work hard to produce excellence. Marketing is a group effort, with everyone doing their best to create something special.

3. “If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.”

This conditional statement strikes to the heart of advertising. To successfully market your product, you need to stand out. This creativity includes extensive testing, refinement, and originality. You can’t just use a similar strategy to similar products, you need to think outside the box. The best way to make your product stand out in a sea of similar offerings is creativity. 

4. “The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife.”

This is critical to remember when creating a successful marketing campaign. Beyond the metrics, testing, analytics, and marketing tools, advertising needs to appeal to real people. Your content can be chock-full of keywords and internal links, but without that human element, it will always fall flat. Put yourself in the shoes of your consumer, and your message will succeed. 

5. “The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.”

Humor sticks with people better than almost any other form of advertising. An idea that seems ridiculous at its inception, may turn out to be an exceptional campaign. When brainstorming, no idea is too out there. Make jokes, take risks, and try out something new.

6. “The more informative your advertising, the more persuasive it will be.”

Information is key to establishing trust in your brand, and blogs are the perfect vessel through which to deliver it. If you provide clear and useful information, users will come back again and again.

RESOURCE: Learn how our up-front discovery allows us to get valuable information for our advertising campaigns

7. “A good advertisement is one which sells the product without drawing attention to itself.”

While an advertisement cannot be effective without drawing attention, that attention must be on the product, not the advertisement. The audience needs to notice the product, not that they’re being sold to. You want people to interact with the advertisement, not notice that they’re being sold to. 

8. “In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create.”

While originality, wit, and creativity are big parts of advertising, they mean nothing if that advertisement doesn’t sell the product. In marketing, you can’t lose sight of the product you’re selling. It’s better to have a clear, simple ad than a creative one that leaves the consumer confused. 

David Ogilvy was no doubt one of the forefathers of modern advertising. His theories, beliefs, and practices have helped shape some of the most iconic campaigns of the past 70 years.