David Ogilvy’s Guide To Writing Ads Explained Part 38

We’ve reached the final element of David Ogilvy’s “How to create advertising that sells” breakthrough ad that helped push Ogilvy & Mather to new heights.

I have no idea how many times the ad was run, but if element 38 is to be believed, he would have run it at least 5 times.

One thing I do know is that he used this format more than once, and in the coming days and weeks, we’ll take a look at a couple more examples.

Here’s a question: how often do you see the same ad repeated? Pre-internet, it may have been daily, weekly, or monthly depending on what medium was used (i.e. the print industry – newspapers and magazines). Or you may have seen a repeat ad on TV.

But competition was fierce and unless you knew what you were doing, advertising was expensive.

So it made a lot of sense to repeat the same ad IF it made a return on its cost. Unfortunately, back in the day, it was almost impossible to measure (which is why unique identifying  addresses were used in direct response ads).

Ogilvy knew this well and made a point of selling his agency on the principle that he used research and measurement to ensure his clients got a great return (or at least tried to).

Thus he was able to let people know that a winning ad could be used over and over again – implying that most people either a) didn’t know this – what!! Or b) needed some assurance that it WAS possible for advertising to work.

Element 38 is really kind of odd because it defies the reality that no one in their right mind wouldn’t want a winning ad repeated ad-infinitum until the well ran dry. But he wasn’t after ‘ordinary’ people.

He was after big spenders. He had a reputation to both keep and build up. If he couldn’t be the thought leader of his day, someone else would, and what great thought leaders do is repeat the obvious over and over again (I once went to a high-ticket marketing convention where our internationally well known celebrity speaker told us all about AIDA – but in a refreshing, guru kind of way, and it worked a treat).

Ogilvy ends his epic ad with a question: “Is this ALL we know?” And then pulls us in with an implied CTA: “But this special information is revealed only to the clients of Ogilvy & Mather”.

All we have to go on from here is their address: 2 East 48th Street, New York. Take a look today and you’ll see that area has just about every famous brand there is from Tiffany to the Waldorf Astoria.

That’s how to (literally) position yourself as the leader of the pack (which, if you remember, is where his first element started).

If you liked this long running series, watch out for part one of my new series on Friday.


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