Last night I decided to watch another episode of "Mad Men". It wasn't as much fun as I thought it would be. Guess I had to be there for the whole series straight through.
One thing did bring back memories. As the ad execs were getting off the elevator, one of them mentioned David Ogilvy's "new" book. It was called "Confessions of an Advertising Man". Leo Burnett's book had been "Communications of an Advertising Man", but David always had to be more provocative.
I recalled that Ogilvy's book had jump-started my career. I had recently accepted a job as a copywriter in Detroit, but before I left I had ordered the Ogilvy book from Stuart Brent's bookshop in Chicago. I saved it till I got to Detroit, and read it on the bus to work in the mornings.
The book itself was a wonderful study in branding. The cover showed David, pipe in hand and very professorial. It immediately established authority. The glossy book cover, once removed, unfolded to double its size, and on the reverse a selection of the Ogilvy ads were reprinted. The book was printed on thick, expensive paper. Ad one early page described the paper stock and the typeface selection. Very classy.
On my 30-minute bus ride, I pored over every word: David's beginnings as a chef in Paris; his work for Gallup Research in New York; and his idea to hook up with a successful adman-cousin in London and start an advertising agency here. Ogilvy and Mather became known at first for its research-based work, and later for its dramatic creative work for Schweppes, Hathaway shirts, and Rolls Royce.
Aside from reeking of quality, the book taught me a deep sense of professionalism. Advertising is not hucksterism. It has an economic reason for being. And like any profession, it can be done well or poorly. Here is what the world of advertising looks like if you dedicate yourself to doing it well.
I urge you to read, or perhaps re-reread, "Confessions of an Advertising Man". It's in paperback, because it's recently been re-issued.
I wish I could say the same for David Ogilvy. We can use him.