David Ogilvy was one of advertising’s most successful copywriters. His influence on the industry as a whole has been so large that Advertising Age called him "one of the greatest creative minds in the advertising business," and Time recognized him as "the most sought-after wizard in the advertising business."
Even when Ogilvy was the chairman of the board, he always considered himself a copywriter first. His passion for advertising was grounded in his love of the art. His distaste for business led him to say, "If you’re good at creating, for goodness sake don’t waste your time in top management."
David Ogilvy’s success lay in his ability to learn from the advertising greats of the past, adding his own unique touch along the way. Rosser Reeves, Claude Hopkins, Dr. George Gallup and Raymond Rubicam were all influences that he cited throughout his career. Yet it was his ability to incorporate their philosophies into his own which earned him the recognition he so deserved. Creativity, research, humor and honesty were the elements that served as the foundation of Ogilvy’s approach. He once said, "I learned to sell, which means listening more than you talk, knowing your product inside out, having a sense of humor and telling the truth."
In addition to writing famous campaigns for Hathaway Shirts, Rolls-Royce, Schweppes and others, Ogilvy worked hard to make his company the success it is today. His efforts helped to make Ogilvy an international powerhouse, becoming the first foreign advertising agency to gain access to the Soviet Union in 1989. He also led an attack on the commission system, making his the first major agency to change to fee-based compensation.
In addition to leading his company, Ogilvy authored many books, his most successful being Confessions of an Advertising Man, which not only won him widespread renown, but became one of the industry’s classic texts, a veritable "how-to" for executives, advertisers, and copywriters. It has sold over one million copies and has been translated into 15 languages.
In addition to his passion for advertising, Ogilvy also dedicated his talents to the arts. He served as a director of the New York Philharmonic in 1960, chairman of the Public Participation Committee of Lincoln Center and as a trustee of Colby College.
David Ogilvy’s success has been recognized by many throughout the world. He was elected to the Copywriters Hall of Fame in 1963, made a Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 1967, and honored as Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government in 1991.