The Masters: David Ogilvy and Rules

One of the pleasures of leisure for me is reading.

I love a good book.

It could be a novel, it could be a work-related practical guide or simply something written by or about someone in a particular field – e.g. copywriting, advertising, science, creative thinking, marketing or travel.

And one of the names you’ll always hear when it comes to marketing and advertising genius, is David Ogilvy, who set up the post-Second-World-War advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather.

It’s not his story I’m going to talk about today. It’s some of the things he said.

On the cover of his book Ogilvy on Advertising¬†is a quote which says “I hate rules”.

This links with one of his most well-known quotes:

“Rules are for the obedience of fools and guidance of wise men”

This is relevant today because¬†there is so much information about there about marketing and copywriting. And there are so many “gurus” or so-called “experts” who will tell you to follow a certain method or system.

And there’s no guarantee what has worked for them will work for you.

What worked five or 10 years’ ago in marketing may not work (or work so well) today.

Sometimes you have to break away from the norm. (It may even be essential to do this – if you are to get noticed and stand out from the crowd).

Sometimes you have to behave differently, act differently or do something different to get better results.

Sometimes you have to break the rules.

In an industry which embraced and loved being creative, Ogilvy said advertising should focus instead on communicating information and getting the reader to buy the product (or service).

He concluded: “If it doesn’t sell it isn’t creative.”

Give this some thought when you’re putting your next campaign together.

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