Remembering David Ogilvy

08 Dec,2011

By Sumit Roy


As the Ogilvy India Alumni celebrates David Ogilvy’s 100th year at an event in Mumbai this evening, former Ogilvyian Sumit Roy pays a tribute to the Father of Advertising, and surely an inspiration for a million creative thinkers’. He shares with MxM India his experience of working with the ‘King of Madison Avenue’


I have had the privilege of working with David Ogilvy when I joined Ogilvy & Mather as a copy trainee in the year 1973. This was my first job and what a training ground it proved to be! O&M is an institution which laid the foundation for my current avatar where I am the Founder Director of Univbrands showing people how to ride the brand communication motorcycle.


It’s at Ogilvy I learnt about growing people who grow brands that is the driving philosophy behind Univbrands


David Ogilvy’s relationship with his employees was just like that of a father with his children. Some of the lessons I have learnt from him have held me in good strength in my life and profession. One of my biggest learning is that he codified knowledge into slide and film presentations called Magic Lanterns which Ogilvy follows even now. It points out to things that works and not just idle words and the testimony to this lies in the outstanding works that Ogilvy does even today. He taught us that the consumer is not a moron; she is your wife thus teaching a huge lesson of valuing the consumer and not take him for granted. In fact, David Ogilvy used to often quote that Rules are for obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men (Douglas Bader).


He also professed that one should always hire people who are better than you as it helps in the growth of the organization. Always look at qualities that are more than one had at a particular age and hire those people and we at Univbrands try to emulate this and have many talented people.


I think being at Ogilvy at that time was like being at a University but the difference was that while you have to pay to get knowledge, here one earned knowledge. So the whole idea of earn as you learn that we at Univbrands profess has its genesis from David Ogilvy’s philosophy.


I do endorse his saying that unless your ad is built around a big idea it will pass like a ship in the night. He also said that one should use their intellect to follow any principle and that would ensure that there is no repetition. Hence there should be a discipline of knowledge to the anarchy of ignorance. Another one his teaching that has stayed with me is that he professed that what we say is more important than how we say it. Somewhere today many are going wrong here as the focus is more on how you say it rather than what you say.


David Ogilvy also said, We sell-or else and that is the foundation of advertising. It is not about the notion of reaching how many people but how much you spend for the prospect. That is the key of advertising which many tend to forget behind lofty ideas.


I think every advertising professional should read his books as they are immensely relevant even in today’s world. While we may have progressed but the basics remain the same and that’s where David Ogilvy’s book come in useful. Every individual associated to advertising in some way must read his books which are treatise on advertising.


David Ogilvy has been a great teacher and influencer and those who have not come in contact with him have missed a lot.


Sumit Roy has spent 14 years at Ogilvy and is now Founder Director of Univbrands


As told to Tuhina Anand

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