A Private Conversation with Advertising Executive David Ogilvy

The best business books are good at teaching the theoretical aspects of running a business.

But there’s nothing better than having a conversation with a successful entrepreneur.

What to do when one of your heroes is no longer around?

Short answer: Dig into his work.

One of my business heroes is David Ogilvy. Funny enough, his book Ogilvy on Advertising inspired me a lot when I was 16. So you cannot imagine how happy I was when I received The Unpublished, a series of notes made by David Ogilvy.

This is basically the best way to see how he used to manage and lead his advertising agency.

It was a great dive into his work experience and way to learn a lot from practical insight.

“On average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy.”

Starting and growing a business looks glamorous. The media highlight the success stories.

But reading what actually happened makes it far more interesting.

“You cannot bore people into buying your product; you can only interest them in buying it… Unless your advertising contains a Big Idea it will pass like a ship in the night…”

The Personal Notes of a Successful Adman

The Unpublished David Ogilvy puts you into the daily life an advertising agency. It shares the personal notes, private memos, and public speeches of an advertising executive who revolutionised the advertising industry.


Here are three reasons why you should get this book:

  1. Learning from real experience. Writing memos and speeches are things that entrepreneurs do everyday. The Unpublished David Ogilvy is full of inspiration on how to do it better. It’s not common to see how other leaders manage and communicate with their team. Reading this book is a great opportunity to learn from a pro of communication.
  2. Advertising is often a major part of a marketing strategy. This book shares timeless principles on how to communicate your unique value proposition to customers and investors. Creating ads is an art. And we have a lot to learn from Ogilvy.
  3. An inspirational character. I have a small bias here. Ogilvy is one of my favorite businessmen. He is the reason I started my first venture when I was in high school. If he made me start a business, I believe he can inspire you too.

From Guesses to Numbers

David Ogilvy influenced the way marketers and advertisers work by implementing scientific methods to measure ad performance. A/B testing was his beloved technique. He believed that advertising was a way to scale salesmen at a time when people considered it only as a way to get people’s attention.

“Try and avoid being drawn into discussing competitive [offers], as it introduces a negative and defensive atmosphere.”

Learn how to sell. Ogilvy was also a great salesman. You’ll find in this book his guide to sell Aga Cookers, which is a bible for salespeople. From “attack to defense” Ogilvy shows you how to prepare your sales strategy and be ready to convince your prospects and to anticipate their criticism.

Read The Unpublished David Ogilvy. You will learn a lot about sales, management, and advertisement.

“The greater the similarity between products, the less part reason plays in brand selection… We try to create sharply defined personalities for our brands. And stick to those personalities, year after year.”


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