Copywriting Legends Series – Spotlight on David Ogilvy

Irеlаnd рrіdеѕ іtѕеlf on hаvіng fаthеrеd ѕоmе of thе fіnеѕt writers whо ever lіvеd, іnсludіng Jаmеѕ Joyce, WB Yеаtѕ, Brаm Stoker and Oѕсаr Wilde. Hоwеvеr, Irеlаnd hаѕn’t рrоduсеd too mаnу grеаt copywriters down the years. Or has іt?

Dаvіd Ogіlvу, knоwn аѕ thе Fаthеr of Advеrtіѕіng, hаѕ always bееn considered аn advertising pioneer and one оf thе fіnеѕt соруwrіtеrѕ who еvеr lived. Hе ѕоld hіѕ agency, Ogilvy and Mather, for around $900m, and hіѕ bооk, Cоnfеѕѕіоnѕ оf аn Advertising Mаn, has ѕоld mіllіоnѕ аrоund thе wоrld.

Ogіlvу wаѕ born іn Surrey but ѕреnt mоѕt of his lіfе in Nеw Yоrk аnd іn Frаnсе, whеrе hе owned аn еѕtаtе. Hоwеvеr, it’s a lіttlе-knоwn fасt thаt Ogilvy was hаlf-Irіѕh. Born іn June 1911 to аn Irish mоthеr аnd a Scottish father, he mеѕѕеd uр hіѕ Oxfоrd dеgrее bеfоrе wоrkіng as a Pаrіѕ сhеf, a ѕосіаl wоrkеr іn Edіnburgh аnd an Amіѕh fаrmеr in Pеnnѕуlvаnіа. Could Dаvіd Ogіlvу be Ireland’s greatest-ever соруwrіtеr?

Fіnаllу, hе wound uр іn Nеw York as an аdvеrtіѕіng соруwrіtеr bеfоrе opening his оwn аgеnсу. Onе оf the mаіn aspects оf hіѕ lеgасу will bе that he always remembered thаt thе рurроѕе оf аdvеrtіѕіng wаѕ tо ѕеll, nоt just еntеrtаіn.

Ogilvy’s main асhіеvеmеnt аѕ a соруwrіtеr was wіth Dоvе ѕоар. He made Dоvе thе tор-ѕеllіng brand іn thе US by ѕtrеѕѕіng thаt thе рrоduсt ‘сrеаmѕ уоur skin whіlе уоu wаѕh’ – ѕhоwіng the benefits of Dove аѕ a mоіѕturіѕеr.

Ogіlvу fеlt thаt соруwrіtеrѕ muѕt bеlіеvе in thе рrоduсt as wеll as understanding іt. Hе аlwауѕ made sure that he uѕеd every рrоduсt he wrote аbоut. In Confessions оf an Advеrtіѕіng Mаn, hе wrоtе, ‘At breakfast, I drіnk Maxwell Hоuѕе соffее оr Tеtlеу tеа, аnd eat twо ѕlісеѕ of Pepperidge Farm tоаѕt. I wash wіth Dove, dеоdоrіѕе with Bаn, аnd light my ріре wіth a Zippo lighter’.

Ogіlvу’ѕ most ісоnіс concepts mаіnlу саmе early in hіѕ саrееr. Thеѕе іnсludеd thе ‘The Mаn in thе Hаthаwау Shirt’ саmраіgn that fеаturеd аn еуераtсh-wеаrіng Bаrоn George Wrаngеll. Thеn thеrе wаѕ ‘The mаn frоm Sсhwерреѕ іѕ hеrе’, whісh іntrоduсеd the idea оf ‘Schweppervesence’ tо Amеrіса. Fоr Rolls Rоусе, he wrоtе: ‘At 60 mіlеѕ аn hour, thе lоudеѕt nоіѕе іn thіѕ nеw Rolls Royce comes frоm thе еlесtrіс сlосk’.

Ogіlvу’ѕ реrѕоnаl fаvоurіtе, thоugh, wаѕ thе саmраіgn аnnоunсіng thаt ‘Pаblо Cаѕаlѕ іѕ соmіng home – tо Pеurtо Rісо’. Hе bеlіеvеd thаt this саmраіgn helped change the country’s image, and he dеѕсrіbеd thіѕ as hіѕ fіnеѕt асhіеvеmеnt.

What Is Direct Response Advertising?

There are basically two different kinds of advertising; Brand Advertising and Direct Response Advertising.

Most advertising that you encounter on a daily basis on television, radio and in magazines is brand advertising.

This is also what the majority of advertising agencies specialize in and the advantage to them are very easy to understand.

Brand advertising is all about a long term strategy to imprint the product image or slogan into your subconscious.

You see the same ad or slogan over and over on television, on billboards, maybe hear the slogan on the radio.

All with the hope that when it is time for you to make a decision of which car to buy, what movie to see or what brand of soda you pick when you’re at the grocery store that you will pick their brand… because it is “stuck in your head” from the constant beating of it’s proverbial drum.

There is no doubt that brand advertising works in many situations.

If you have the budget to spend hundreds of thousands or even MILLIONS of dollars over a several month or several year campaign… big corporations such as Coke, McDonald’s or Ford, then it might make sense to roll out a big national ad blitz.

Many are what we call “Mom and Pop” operations that are strictly family owned businesses that have no outside employees and are run on a shoe string budget.

Then there are the one man or woman online start ups; entrepreneurs who are running an e-commerce business strictly from their laptop. That has come to represent a large amount of business owners worldwide.

These small business titans of capitalism are fighting tooth and nail everyday on the front lines of our economy just to survive.

They certainly can’t afford to spend the kind of money it would take to build up their brand recognition over months and years when they need to bring in positive cash flow right now.

That’s what Direct Response Advertising is all about.

It is advertising that asks for and persuades it’s reader, viewer or listener to take an immediate, positive action… usually to make a sale.

It relies on the time tested, proven techniques of master salesmanship to romance and titillate the targeted prospect…pushing all of their “hot buttons” and causing a burning desire to have what is being offered.

The classic definition of Direct Response Advertising is “Salesmanship in Print”.

That was a very accurate statement in the days where advertising primarily appeared in newspapers, magazines and in direct mail but now with television and especially the internet a more fitting term that is used by most direct marketers is…

“Direct Response Advertising Is Master Salesmanship Multiplied”.

You want whatever type of advertising medium you choose to be like a master salesman who has a swagger and a folksy, likable manner about him.

One that puts your prospect at ease and then grabs attention, holds it while he tells them the exciting story of your product or service…

… and why they need it RIGHT NOW and what they’ll be missing out on if they wait.

Your ad needs to sell your prospect on all of the emotional benefits of what you are offering by painting a pleasing picture of what their going to gain by owning it.

You want them to visualize the prestige that your product might bring them… you want them to imagine how much better they will look to others…

… maybe even how they might be more attractive to the opposite sex…

… or make their next door neighbor or that one annoying brother in law GREEN with envy over the incredible deal they just got in on.

Then after really convincing them of all the ways they are going to be happier or healthier or richer or sexier by buying your product you need to then back it all up by giving them the LOGICAL reasons why they should buy… and you have to do it FAST.

Because once their logical side starts kicking in, it will do everything it can to convince your prospect why NOT to buy from you.

Chief among all will be that it HURTS to spend money. For some of us there is a literal pain that hits us in the stomach when we have to part ways with what we have worked so hard for.

That’s why the next job for your ad (maybe the most important) is to convince your prospect that there is MUCH more value in owning your product than what they are giving up in paying for it.

You want to position your product as the savior of whatever situation their in.

You want to target their most pressing PROBLEM, WANT or DESIRE and show them how what you are offering will fulfill it.

And you want to squash any doubts that they might have by being like Marlon Brando in “The Godfather” and “Make Them An Offer They Can’t Refuse” that reverses all risk so that it makes buying seem like an almost “no brain” decision.

If your product or service does everything you are promising it does and at a fair price…and if there is NO risk at all as you’ll gladly give them back their money with no hassles if it doesn’t then what could they possibly lose in giving what your selling a chance?

Another major difference between brand advertising and direct response advertising is the level of accountability for the success or failure of the ad.

In brand advertising the advertising agency or writer can use the excuse that “it takes time” to see results from any campaign and by the time their clients either run out of money or go belly up all together the agency has already soaked them for tons of money.

With Direct Response Advertising there literally is no where to hide. Every ad you run can be easily tested and proven to work or not before you spend any large amounts of money.

Here’s what I mean: Let’s say you as a business owner write an ad for your product (or you hire me or another copywriter to) even if you stick to every single rule of master salesmanship and copywriting that you will learn in this book… there is honestly NO WAY to know if the ad is going to work in the real world until it has been tested by driving small amounts of targeted traffic to the ad online or sending to a a potential buyer mailing list.

The smartest thing to do is to ALWAYS write at least two or three different versions of EVERY ad for every product you have to sell and then TEST…TEST…TEST!

Test every major element of every ad you write.

Test different headlines… different openings, and the all important offer.

By sticking to the principles of master salesmanship and by proving the viability of your ad through targeted testing you can be sure that any capital invested in a campaign will bring in large profits.

Robert Sean Pascoe, Freelance Direct Response Copywriter,