David Ogilvy and his Influence in Advertising

On this day, June 23 in the year 1911, the co-founder of the advertising giant Ogilvy and Mather was born in Surrey, United Kingdom. His name is David Mackenzie Ogilvy, the man considered the jack of all trades in advertising.

David Ogilvy
David Ogilvy (Credit: brandingstrategyinsider.com)

David was the son of a scholar and stockbroker. He studied history at Oxford but did not graduate. He travelled to France and found work in a hotel in Paris. After a year, he went back to England to become a salesman for Aga cookers. There, he made a mark when he was tasked to write an instructional manual for the other sales people in the company. When a copy of this was read by the executives of an advertising agency, he was recruited to join the agency’s copywriting team.

In 1938, David embarked on a trip to the US. He got a job at the Gallup Polls where he gained knowledge of consumer preferences and methods of research. When World War II broke out, he found a job at the British Embassy in Washington. He wrote a lot of recommendations on secret intelligence based on his knowledge of human behavior.

When the war was over, he briefly became a farmer in Pennsylvania. Realizing that advertising was his real calling, he went back to New York in 1948 to start his own advertising agency with the help of his brother. Thus, Hewitt, Ogilvy, Benson & Mather ad agency was born. In 1965, the partnership merged with Mather and Crowther to form Ogilvy and Mather.

In the 1970s, Ogilvy and Mather grew to become one of the top five advertising agencies in the world. He stepped down as head of the creative department in 1975 and went to reside in France. In 1989, he sold his shares to WPP.

David was the author of 3 books on advertising. Though he married three times, he had only one child, a son with his first wife. He passed away on July 21, 1999 at the age of 88.

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