Confessions Of A Reluctant Advertising Man


In one of my first radio jobs I worked as  a copywriter for a big regional radio station and it definitely was not where I saw myself as I struggled to get my first show as part of the on air lineup at a radio station. I had to contend with doing the occasional weekend show and during the week writing ads for local clients.

I can’t say I really enjoyed it much  as I pumped out commercials for Mom and Pop car dealerships and Butcher shops with the classic line if “it’s our birthday but you get the presents” but I did see why some people enjoyed the creative process when a client gave you full reign to go nuts and come up with something creative and I have to say I got a real buzz out of that, but not such a buzz I would want to do it as a full-time gig at an ad agency.

When Mad Men first arrived on our TV sets I suddenly got those feelings of creating a piece of copy that would blow the minds of the client and your sales rep and the real buzz it would give you when your baby finally ended up on the airwaves.

It was this tv series that really spiked my interest in the mid century advertising techniques and the big names of the time.

It led me to check out David Ogilvy’s advertising bible, “Confessions of an Advertising Man.”

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David Ogilvy was considered the “father of advertising” and a creative genius . The book was first published in 1963 and it revolutionized the world of advertising and became a bible for the 1960s ad generation. It also became an international bestseller, translated into 14 languages The book covers not only advertising, but also people management, corporate ethics, and office politics, and forms an essential blueprint for good practice in business.

Step into a time machine to the 1950s and you’ll spot many differences in the way products were advertised. Brand messages were simpler, layouts were far cleaner and the copy was much, much longer.

While some elements of vintage advertising are rightly regarded as outdated relics that no longer work in the digital age, others remain just as effective today as they were more than 60 years ago.

From giant billboards on Fifth Avenue to tiny classified ads in the back of your local newspaper, the advertisements of yesteryear were significantly less cluttered with color, design elements and branding than those of today.

Although radio advertising may no longer be the commercial force it once was, the classic slogans and jingles of 1950s and 1960s advertising remain just as effective today as they were ‘back in the day.’

Celebrity endorsements are often written off by modern marketers as ‘cheesy’ and ineffective, but they can be incredibly powerful tools for marketing your product if they’re done properly.

Celebrity endorsements and company spokespeople were a stable of 20th century marketing where the power of celebrity was truly incredible for marketing new product.

If you get a chance check out Ogilvys book, it’s still available via websites like Amazon and really gives you a look into the advertising practices of the past and you can see how they affect todays ads regardless of the new metric systems that marketers try and perfect, at the end of the day it’s about a message, and to quote Don Draper “People want to be told what to do so badly they will listen to anyone”.