Key elements in advertising from David Ogilvy’s perspective

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"If it doesn't sell, it isn't creative."

                                                 - David Ogilvy

Advertising and marketing are essential tools for businesses to grow. I just read a couple of articles about “The father of Advertising,” as named by the New York Times in 1999, the famous David Ogilvy. He had an outstanding knowledge of advertising, which is still used in the modern advertising world.

I would like to share my fictional interview questions with David about his perspective in advertising:


“Do Research: Know People’s Language & Ask question”

What are the best ways to target and have loyal customers?

“I don't know the rules of grammar... If you're trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think. We try to write in the vernacular.” - David Ogilvy

The best way to target your customer is to understand their language, as illustrated by David in the above quote. Researching and knowing who your customers are and in which language they speak is key.

If you want to win a friend or a loyal customer, you should always listen to the other person’s perspective. Do your research by asking smart questions that encourage your customers to answer and continue the conversation. Asking direct questions like "Would you like to buy a Dell computer? will probably be ignored and won't work.

Here is another prospective from David: “Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals.



“Be creative, but understand your prospect’s world first”

When is creativity helpful in business and marketing?

In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create.” - David Ogilvy

Being a genius is not always helpful. You need to have a great understanding of your prospect’s world. Creativity can’t be helpful when it doesn't bring any result. David also stated that: “Big ideas come from the unconscious. This is true in art, in science, and in advertising. But your unconscious has to be well informed, or your idea will be irrelevant. Stuff your conscious mind with information, then unhook your rational thought process. You can help this process by going for a long walk, or taking a hot bath, or drinking half a pint of claret. Suddenly, if the telephone line from your unconscious is open, a big idea wells up within you.


“Create your business’ image”

What is the key element to make an outstanding business?

There isn’t any significant difference between the various brands of whiskey, or cigarettes or beer. They are all about the same. And so are the cake mixes and the detergents, and the margarines… The manufacturer who dedicates his advertising to building the most sharply defined personality for his brand will get the largest share of the market at the highest profit.” - David Ogilvy

To have an outstanding business, you must define your company or business' personality, as well as its image, which will describe who you are and what you are doing. David also stated that: “You now have to decide what 'image' you want for your brand. Image means personality. Products, like people, have personalities, and they can make or break them in the market place.


David Ogilvy died at the age of 88 in 1999 at his home in France. He created and run Ogilvy & Mather, one of the top advertising agencies in the world. He brought a broad understanding of advertising and valuable lessons to the future marketing generations.


If you have comments and suggestions, please share them with me below!

You can also read the Farsi version of this blog here.



Elaha Mahboob


About the author


Elaha Mahboob has been working with Afghan Citadel Software Company as a Co-founder and Lead Programmer since 2010. Afghan Citadel is an women-owned IT business company that provides services like software development, networking infrastructure, web designing and IT consulting in Afghanistan. She also worked as a Network Administrator in the…

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