Remembering David Ogilvy
As an alumnus of Ogilvy & Mather and as someone old enough to remember David Ogilvy walking the halls of his great agency, I am saddened by his death.
I considered it a privilege to have worked at this fine agency. Because of David’s “beliefs” and “tenets” and codified “behaviors” for providing the finest service to the clients of the agency, I would like to believe I have been a better professional for having worked at O&M in a culture David created.
He has left our industry with a void–just knowing he was alive was inspirational for some. However, his legacy as a standard-bearer of truth in advertising, creativity that sells and respect for the consumer will prevail among some of the fine talent in the industry today.
And wouldn’t David have loved the emerging dot-com business? He may have fought it at first, or wrestled with the integrity of it all.
But in the end, David was an entrepreneur who would have mastered this industry–and brought class to it as well.
Lee Anne Morgan
President, Lee Anne Morgan & Partners,
David loved the word “partner,” and he used it generously to include us all, even when we were still juniors.
I worked for him from 1960 to 1981. In 1970, I traveled to our Paris agency on business. Knowing I was alone and away from my husband and young children, David was kind enough to invite me to Touffou for the weekend. While there, he and Herta and I attended a luncheon in honor of the newly appointed American ambassador to the Court of St. James. It was held in a ch‰teau even larger than David’s.
I felt very young, very American and very unskilled in French. I stayed in the periphery of the gathering, wondering how a girl from Brooklyn had ended up at so grand a party.
About 20 minutes after our arrival, I noticed David beckoning to me to join him. “I’d like you to meet Bourne Morris, one of my new partners from New York,” he said, presenting me to the new ambassador. I was stunned to hear him describe me as his partner and so flattered, I would have worked for him free of charge for a year.
Years later, when I was managing Ogilvy & Mather’s Los Angeles agency, I prevailed upon David to visit and give a talk to the Los Angeles Ad Club. At the end of his speech, he held out his hands, palms up and gently moved his fingertips upward. The audience rose to its feet and gave him a standing ovation. David beamed and said to me: “I never knew one could get a standing ovation simply by asking for one.”
Every year, I tell my students stories about him and his remarkable ability to inspire people. I am sure I am one of the thousands who miss him very much.
Professor, Reynolds School of Journalism, University of Nevada
Here’s the advice I received from David Ogilvy when I was executive creative director at Ogilvy & Mather in Chicago in the middle 1980s:
“I think the secret of being a good creative director is to be tough as hell. Never, ever approve anything unless you really admire it.
“This is almost bound to make your people hate you.
“Most of the creative directors I’ve known were soft. They had to be loved. Nobody respected them, and they seldom got good work out of their troops.”
I never interpreted this as meaning I should become an ogre. With David as a model, I saw that a person could uphold strict standards while remaining completely civil.
I wish you could print this in a wallet-size shape so David’s insights might become a constant reminder to current and future creative directors.
Ijoined the Houston office of Ogilvy & Mather in 1975 as a creative supervisor on the Shell account. David Ogilvy had already retired and moved to France, but he still reviewed the agency’s creative output after it was produced–from every office in the worldwide system.
One of my first ads for Shell came back to Houston with a small handwritten note attached. It said, “The copywriter who wrote this ad and the account executive who sold it should both be taken out and shot.”
It was signed “D.O.” in red ink.
I was mortified, crushed, ashamed. I think I managed to get that note into the office paper shredder within seconds of reading it. (How I wish now that I saved it and had it framed along with the offending ad.)
A few months later, Ogilvy visited the Houston office. We showed him our latest TV commercials. One, for Trailways bus lines, was a cheerful animated spot. As it was shown, Ogilvy got up and walked out of the room–he did not consider “cartoons” appropriate advertising.
Undaunted, I spent 40 minutes with him in private, and I remember how genuinely interested he was in my life and my progress as an Ogilvy copywriter. He treated me as though I were the most valuable person on that trip. (I still treasure my time with what I will always regard as the world’s finest advertising agency.)
As I left our meeting, I noticed that Ogilvy was wearing his trademark red suspenders, a double-breasted navy blazer and what we used to call jodhpur boots. I left work that day, immediately went over to Brooks Brothers and purchased a pair of those boots. I wore them long after they had become passƒ.
I could never fill David Ogilvy’s shoes. But I hope that in all the ads I’ve written since, I have fulfilled his expectations as a first-class copywriter.
Bill Ford, Copywriter
For the Record In the article
“Miller Time Ends, Begins Anew” [Adweek, Aug. 2], some facts about David Apicella and Jeroen Bours were transposed and Bours’ name was misspelled. David Apicella was incorrectly identified as “Dutch-born”; in fact, it is Bours who is originally from Holland. Also, Bours was only recently recruited from DDB in New York to work on American Express at Ogilvy & Mather.
It is Apicella who has worked on Ogilvy’s award-winning American Express work The article “Another AT&T Roster Shuffle” [Adweek, Aug. 2] inaccurately indicated that AT&T could not be reached for comment–in fact, a company representative declined comment.
Remembering David Ogilvy