Ad Legend David Ogilvy Dies at Age 88

Marketing professionals around the globe were saddened by the passing of industry leader David Ogilvy, 88, who died July 21 at his home in Touffou, France.

At the news of his death, trade groups, agency heads and industry professionals took time to note his contributions in a career that spanned much of this century and a legacy that will no doubt endure throughout the next.

At DraftWorldwide, Chicago, president/CEO Howard Draft said Ogilvy “was a true visionary, a man who had as great an impact on our business as anyone. His classic line, ‘We sell or else,’ represents the heritage of all of us in direct marketing.”

In New York, H. Robert Wientzen, president/CEO of the Direct Marketing Association, said, “It would not be an understatement to call Ogilvy the advertising man of the century.”

Ogilvy founded the advertising agency now known around the world as Ogilvy & Mather in 1948. At that time, he had no clients and only two staff members, but he eventually grew his business into a worldwide operation, one that today boasts 359 offices in 100 countries.

Ogilvy long said that one of his first employers, the George Gallup Audience Research Institute, Princeton, NJ, had influenced his thinking about advertising, marketing strategy and the importance of making decisions based on qualified research. According to the DMA, he also noted once that “Direct response was my first love. Later, it became my secret weapon.”

On the subject of advertising, Ogilvy declared in 1936 that every advertisement must tell the whole sales story, “every word in the copy must count.” He also said permanent success has rarely been built on frivolity and “people do not buy from clowns.”

Sixty years later, he was saying pretty much the same thing. At the Association of National Advertisers (U.S.), he reminded the audience, “If you focus your advertising budget on entertaining the consumer, you may not sell as much of your product as you like. People don’t buy a new detergent because the manufacturer told a joke on television last night. They buy it because it promises a benefit.”

Ogilvy was born in West Horsely, England, on June 23, 1911. He came to the United States in 1938.

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