Ogilvy’s On Advertising & Us

What we learned about advertising from reading Ogilvy’s On Advertising and how it’s still relevant

As a small design studio, there’s no shortage of inspiration, but we often look back on those tried-and-true techniques from the advertising masters, and Ogilvy is our main man.

Like every other design firm, we read On Advertising so you don’t have to, and we pulled some of our favorite ideas for you:

Truths about advertising

1. The only way to get new clients is to do good work

This tip spans corporations, careers, and goals. It’s the same everywhere. If you do good work, you’ll get hired. It’s pretty much that simple. But we like to take it a step further and we follow the golden rule: only do work for others that you would like to see done unto you.

That means that we try to write copy that is good enough for our team, incorporate designs that we’d be happy to put on our portfolio, and work with trusted companies who make us feel like we’re the only studio in the world. 

2. Don’t bury the news

If you have great news, shout it. Don’t “hide it in the body copy.” That’s what headlines are for, and Ogilvy knows how to incorporate the copy properly. A web design studio should be able to know the difference between news and loud voices.

3. Pay attention to the rules

  • Specifics are better than generalizations – this is why Ogilvy’s old ad like “Shop at Sears and save (their profit is less than 5%)” works best. We need that bit of information to understand exactly how Sears can help people save.

Ogilvy recommends staying away from some frequent issues:

  • analogies – even though they sound pretty great, most readers won’t understand them. It’s always better to be informative than clever, in these cases.
  • superlatives- the best idea is to stay away from the ugliest, baddest, and most unimpressive idea in the book.
  • incorporate the price of the product – otherwise, your ad could seem gimmicky.
  • never put the headline under the body copy.
  • white copy on black backgrounds are hard to read.

4. Don’t waste time

If something isn’t working, it occasionally pays to keep trying. But what happens if it still doesn’t work? If you’ve shoveled a ton of money into an ad, a market, or a product? We agree with Ogilvy: be brave. Admit defeat when you are defeated. “Back your winners, and abandon your losers.”

Seen enough? Get An Estimate