Ogilvy on Advertising - Strategic Marketing

Ogilvy on Advertising

David Ogilvy was once considered “the most sought-after wizard in the advertising business.”  Even with very little knowledge about marketing, he went on to become one of the best copywriters and “ad men” in history, opening up his own agency that has since become one of the biggest and best in the world.

So if Ogilvy wants to give you advice about marketing, it pays to listen.  Unfortunately, he passed away in 1999 so you won’t be talking to him any time soon, but it’s worth reading his 1983 book “Ogilvy on Advertising.”  In the ever-changing world of advertising, however, is his advice still relevant 30 years later?  Let’s take a look at some of his suggestions when it comes to designing print advertisements.

  1. “Copy should be written in the language people use in everyday conversation.”  If you want a person to take you seriously and remember what you’re saying, don’t try to sound intelligent by using big words.  Make the reader feel like they’re talking with a friend.
  2. “Readers look first at the illustration, then at the headline, then at the copy.  So put these elements in order–illustration at the top, headline under the illustration, copy under the headline.”  A lot of ads today tend to put headlines at the top of the page. What this does is forces the viewer to have to jump around to look at all the information.  People like linear order.
  3. “Sans-serif faces are particularly difficult to read.”  When writing long copy, serif fonts help easily carry the reader’s eyes from one letter to the next.  Sans-serif fonts are easier to read online, though.  Also be wary of writing copy in all capital letters.
  4. “Copy set in reverse–white type on a black background–is almost impossible to read.”  The same is said for words imposed on top of the picture. The eyes are used to reading black font on a white background.  Again, you don’t want to make something more difficult than it has to be.  Reverse copy is especially bad to use online.
  5.  “Long copy sells more than short.”  In general, people are regarded to have short attention spans so you won’t find many ads today with lengthy copy.  Not only do people rarely read long copy, if a reader wants to know more about the product, it can be easily looked up online.

There are no rules in advertising, but if there is one thing you should take away from Ogilvy, it’s the importance of producing creative and copy that speaks directly to the target audience.  Producing creative for the sake of being creative is one way for your advertising to land with a thud.  Strategic Marketing can guide your image, branding, and advertising to help you make your mark.  Call them today at (561) 688-8155.