“Ogilvy on Advertising” is one of the best advertising books for those that want to get started as advertisers and copywriters. I would go as far as to say that even budding art directors and brand managers can benefit from this book. I would qualify this book as entry-level advertising teachings.
David Ogilvy was considered the most sought-after advertising man in the world. His Madison Avenue agency Ogilvy & Mather did campaigns for brands like Rolls-Royce, Hathaway Shirts, and Schweppes.
The book features twenty chapters, plus a reading list and an alphabetical index. It’d about twenty pages long. It features a lot of photographs of successful ads and other interesting graphics like statistical charts.
It’s the kind of book that is not only a springboard to the world of advertising but also the content in it is highly valuable in itself. Newer advertising books may have rendered a lot of its passages obsolete, but still, it is a great introduction to the subject
Let me explain. It not only has actual teachings on the art of creating, managing, and selling advertisements. It also comes jam-packed with general information for further study on the subject.
One could argue that only twenty chapters and two hundred pages don’t give enough space to teach a novice how to become an advertiser. That’s not the case.
Some of the chapters have very valuable theoretical content that, once learned, allows us to get started creating advertisements without a lot of additional further reading.
Most departments of the traditional advertisement business are given a chapter or at least a thoughtful passage in this book.
In a certain way, I see this book as an updated version of the kind of classic advertising books, like for instance, Claude C. Hopkins's “Scientific Advertising”.
It has biographical parts, instructive parts, informative parts, and purely actionable, reference parts.
Ogilvy takes delight in dropping names. Still, in this kind of book, the name-dropping makes it much more valuable.
Two sections of the book are especially dedicated to teaching the reader about the biggest names in the industry of advertising. This section is bound to pique your curiosity and take you from the generalism of it, to more focused, specific advertising books.
One is chapter 18, that’s about Albert Lasker, Stanley Resor, Raymond Rubicam, Leo Burnett, and Claude C. Hopkins. The other is the section on further reading, at the end of the book.
I think that making the book an eclectic mixture of narrative, case studies, guides, critiques, and think pieces, among other types of content, make it superb.
”Ogilvy On Advertising”, for how it’s written, covers a lot of ground and has a high chance of not letting any reader feel that she or he couldn’t benefit from it.
Why did I Pick this One and not any Other Advertising Books?
I found this book in a street book fair in the city of Mumbai, seven years ago, when I was a novice copywriter. It shared the rack with other (many of them way more newer) advertising books, including textbooks.
I thought it was just another classic advertising book for laymen. I used to have contact with that kind of book since childhood.
It was used but it had nylon wrapping, so I couldn’t browse the content before buying it. I bought it anyway, expecting it to be more like a catalog of successful advertisements with some kind of commentary.
When I read it, it was very satisfying to find that it was a book that taught advertising skills. It wasn’t just case studies and useless trivia to make copy filler for nice pictures; even though it has very nice pictures, like the one above.
In this book, Ogilvy goes as far as giving a cautionary article with directions on how to be able to compete with mega-corporations that have high percentages of market shares in the markets one wants to advertise.
Even if it’s a generalist book much less focused than other advertising books, it has a few very specific chapters. Like chapter 10, ”How to advertise foreign travel”, chapter 13, ”Advertising for good causes” or chapter 4, ”How to run an advertising agency”.
© Martin Wensley, 2020-2021 — OGILVY ON ADVERTISING by David Ogilvy — Best Advertising Books