David Ogilvy’s Guide To Writing Ads Explained Part 18

What’s weird about element 18 of Ogilvy’s legendary ad is its clumsiness. Before we look at that though, what is element 18?

Ever watched a “how to” video that included background music? I know I have because I made one once.

One person commented: “The music is very distracting and totally unnecessary”. Quite right.

I’d not seen Ogilvy’s ad back then, I just assumed videos needed background music (how dumb was that!)

But there’s a place for it. Look at any film (good or bad). If the background music interferes with the story, then it’s a hindrance (and by interferes, I mean takes the focus away from the action or story).

Ogilvy’s guidance was “don’t use it”, and he justified it by saying (more or less) “how many agency meetings have you been in where background music was playing?”. Fair enough.

But the real problem was not background music, it was lousy directorship (this element was about TV ads, not meetings).

What he actually said was this: “But we never heard of an agency using musical background under a new business presentation”.

That line is at best clunky, and at worst almost undecipherable. Whoever edited the ad must have missed it (or if it was Ogilvy himself, he’d just got bored and knew people would skim over it if they’d read this far – nearly 50% through 2000+ words).

The question is, have you ever seen any TV ads that DON’T include music? It seems the entire world decided to ignore Ogilvy, and quite right too, with one exception – internet marketers. Was Ogilvy ahead of his time (or just an old fuddy duddy)?

Who knows, he still made billions, and isn’t that the whole point?



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