David Ogilvy

The Father of Modern Advertising


David Ogilvy once said, “The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.” His funny ideas revolutionized an industry.


Born in Surrey, England, David Ogilvy was once asked had anything ever eluded him in life.  His reply was “knighthood.”  If the Advertising industry could have knighted him they would have.  Probably more than any other person, he changed the face of Advertising.  


Ogilvy won a scholarship at age 13 that allowed him to attend Fettes College and another to Oxford in 1929. But he did poorly at Oxford and dropped out in 1931. He tried his hand at being a Chef, then as a Salesman selling stoves door-to-door.  He was such a success at the latter, his boss asked him to write a manual for the other sale professionals.  Decades later that manual was still in use. It was deemed the best sales instruction manual in existence. 


His older brother got him a job at an advertising agency as an Account Executive.  And there Ogilvy’s career took off.  He came to America in 1938 and used a direct mail campaign to turn a minor client’s hotel opening into a major success, and people were starting to notice the pull he could draw for public attention to products. 


In 1949, Ogilvy started his own agency with $6,000 in his bank account and the backing of the London ad agency his brother was running.  From that small start he built Ogilvy & Mather into a multi-million dollar company, with clients today such as Dove, Schweppes and Rolls-Royce.  Ogilvy retired as Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather in 1973. 




Tags: David Ogilvy, advertising, advertising agency, Ogilvy and Mather, ad campaigns, ad agencies


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