Don’t Bunt!

David Ogilvy was born June 23, 1911.

Adweek is celebrating the great ad man’s legacy with a graphic novel treatment, an essay from Michael Wolff and the following video.

We all know what Ogilvy brought to the ad business. Wolff reminds us what the man also brought to the business of letters:

Among the giants of modern prose must be David Ogilvy.

Confessions of an Advertising Man, a book my advertising-man father gave me to read when I was 12 (an age of high susceptibility to prose styles), had the same body-slamming impact on me as Hemingway’s Nick Adams stories, which I read about the same time. Active rather than passive, intimate rather than formal, grammatically streamlined, first person, and characterized by a set of appealing personal tics, the language seemed to break from all the blah blah you’d ever read before. Not only did it make you want to write like that, but you felt you could write like that: crystalline, authoritative, oracular even, and witty.

When you consider David Droga’s pro-copy piece in the Wall Street Journal today and this salute, it’s a nice reprieve from all the Dos and Don’ts of the digital space. Step back from this medium, or any other message conveying medium ever invented, and you will see that technique serves story. Sadly, this fundamental gets lost in all the chatter.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.