David Ogilvy’s Guide To Writing Ads Explained Part 12

Ogilvy chose to highlight certain media (actually, more or less the only media available in the 1960s), but what he had to say back then about television for example, was, erm, interesting.

So element 12 is about TV celebrity endorsement. If you’ve just discovered that using a celebrity to endorse a product helps you sell 1000x more than not using a celebrity, then you won’t even need a calculator to appreciate the value or return on investment you’re likely to get.

But there are two exceptions (one of which Ogilvy failed to mention). If you’re selling something with a limited supply and low overall profit, the cost of your celebrity could mean a loss.

Of course, that doesn’t matter if it also adds value to the brand behind the thing being sold (or at least that’s what a Madison Avenue advertising guru will tell you).

But hey, this is TV, and a prospective client who is thinking about advertising on that medium puts them in the elite of prospects.

If they can afford to waste money on TV ads, they can easily afford the massive fees of an Ogilvy style advertising outfit (think about this if you’re running an agency and trying to decide on your niche and audience).

But Ogilvy also warned us that the biggest mistake in TV celebrity endorsement was bad alignment. For example, aligning a male cricket star with a female sanitary product is probably not going to work – just like aligning a professional boxer with a grilling machine was never going to work either (hmm…).

The answer of course is we don’t know a thing until we try. Maybe that weird alignment is the one thing not yet tried that will sell a boat load of product. Who knows.

The real question is, what does this alignment bring to the market in terms of emotion? (we all know about credibility – if we like or trust someone enough, they can lie, cheat, and steal, and we’ll still forgive them).

So is Ogivly’s advice good or bad? To answer that question misses the point. His famous ad to sell his agency wasn’t about the merits of each point, it was about emotion and trust.

He figured if he pointed out the obvious, then people’s happy “Yes!” hormones would rise and the trust factor would go through the roof. It did. He won. End of.

PS. It’s not really the end of. More revelations on Monday. Let me know if you’re finding these elements useful in the comments. All feedback gratefully received.



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