25 Random Things About David Ogilvy–OK, Not Quite 25

-He was terrified of flying.
-He only wrote with pencils–no pens, no typewriters.
-He visited a psychiatrist for 2 years, partially because had an incurable fear of failure.
-He once admitted he never wrote a good TV commercial.
-In New York City, he lived next door to Walter Cronkite.
-Before he started his agency, he worked as a farmer, growing tobacco in Pennsylvania Amish country.
-Yes, he did once call Martin Sorrell an “odious little shit,” also saying, “he has no interest in doing good advertising, which is my obsession.”
Want more? Read The King of Madison Avenue” by Kenneth Roman.
Roman does a great job of tracing the life of the man, and it’s quite interesting to see that Ogilvy did quite a bit of other things besides advertising. (He did, however, get his start at an agency run by his brother, reminding us all again that connections do get you places.)
Roman also traces the growth of Ogilvy & Mather worldwide and its eventual sale to WPP, and ruminates on what Ogilvy might think of today’s ad scene. If you like biographies, The King of Madison Avenue is a great one–you get a look at the man behind the myth, warts and all. It’s not, however, a textbook for how to do advertising. David Ogilvy himself already wrote one of those.
Special thanks to Palgrave Macmillan which provided me a copy for review.



About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for TalentZoo.com and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.