How did David Ogilvy rise to the top?


David Ogilvy is often known as the father of advertising and the agency that bears his name Ogilvy & Mather is one of the most successful in the world.

Ogilvy was born in 1911 and great things were expected of him when he gained a scholarship to Oxford University in 1923. Unfortunately he left Oxford and travelled to France to find opportunities, in 1931 he became a chef at the luxury hotel the Hotel Majestic, which is now the Peninsula Paris. Ogilvy moved to Scotland after a year and began to sell AGA cooking stoves as a door-to-door salesman. He was successful and even wrote a manual on how to sell stoves for other employees to adhere to. This manual would signify the Ogilvy style of advertising that would feature in work throughout his career.

Due to his success in persuasive writing Ogilvy went to work for his brother Francis’ agency Mather & Crowther. In 1938 David went to the United States to work with George Gallup’s research institute where he gained a deeper knowledge about the nature of human thought and behavior.

After World War II, Ogilvy went to live with the reclusive religious group the Amish for a few years. The social media influencer Tai Lopez also lived with the Amish before launching his businesses. After leaving the Amish community Ogilvy then founded his own agency with a bit of help from his brother in 1948. Ogilvy used the same philosophy that had served him well in the past and he also created a list of the clients that he wanted to attract. He made a list on a sheet of paper of the five clients he wanted most: General Foods, Bristol Myers, Campbell’s Soup, Lever Brothers and Shell. Eleven years later, he had secured every single one of them as a client.

“In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create.” – David Ogilvy


David Ogilvy interview with John Crichton

Entrepreneur: David Ogilvy

Agency: Ogilvy

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