Ogilvy’s Genius

Learning from the master teacher

My friend, Steve Allan, sent me an article about David Ogilvy, who was ‘The Man’ in the actual days of Mad Men.

50 years after Time Magazine called him “the most sought-after wizard in today’s advertising industry” his name still stops conversation. And his words still have power and resonance.

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

Just keep those words of his in mind as you watch TV commercials later tonight. He would be appalled. And, I think we can all agree, TV spends much more money and devotes more attention to their advertising messages than radio ever has.

Not the best endorsement for the way Radio has treated its advertisers…

Talent, I believe, is most likely to be found among noncomformists, dissenters, and rebels.”

In corporate radio, this may be the biggest change. Do you see “nonconfomists, dissenters, and rebels” walking the hallways of your station? If so, I want to come visit and I’ll pay my own way. I want to share your success story with my readers.

Do not…address your readers as though they were gathered together in a stadium. When people read your copy, they are alone. Pretend you are writing to each of them a letter on behalf of your client.”

Substitute listeners for readers, hear for read, speaking for writing — and he’s got wonderful advice for each of your on-air talent and for those who write your station liners.

There isn’t any significant difference between the various brands of whiskey, or cigarettes or beer. They are all about the same. And so are the cake mixes and the detergents and the margarines…The manufacturer who dedicates his advertising to building the most sharply defined personality for his brand will get the largest share of the market at the highest profit.”

Again, Ogilvy could be talking about consolidated radio today. If you think listeners take note of the tiny nuanced differences between your AC and the other company’s AC (or Country, or Rock) you are deluded. Especially as you slash staff and replace well-known talent with new, cheaper voice-tracked blather.

Personality — your collection of on-air talent — is the only way to stand apart amidst PPM compression and the homogenization of consolidated radio.

Great talent is not an expense; it is an investment which will help you win “…the largest share of the market at the highest profit.” 

And finally…

Don’t bunt. Aim out of the ball park. Aim for the company of immortals.”

Can you honestly say that of your station? Can you honestly say, every day, your station is aiming for immortality?

Don’t just hang on. Don’t just stay under the radar. Don’t just survive.

You can be so much more than that. You know you can. This is your one chance.

Stand up. Think different. Sound different.

It will work, and it will work better than what you’ve been doing.

Because it always has!