If It Doesn’t Sell, It Isn’t Creative

David Ogilvy would be turning 100 years old on June 23. Often cited as the “Father of Advertising,” he was one of the greatest creative executives of all time—certainly one of the most influential.

Ogilvy died in 1999, years before I even knew I wanted to work in marketing or advertising. And now, roughly 10 years after I began learning about this industry, I continue to ask myself the same question: Is there such a thing as David Ogilvy anymore?

We’ve all heard the names Rubicam, Burnett, and Bernbach and know about all the key figures at BBDO. For many of us, they are players in a game that took place well before our time––a game we wouldn’t even recognize today. Agencies were huge and unstoppable. It feels like there were only a few voices speaking and those voices belonged to these seemingly indestructible gods of advertising.

These days, there are thousands upon thousands of small, medium, and large agencies. Add to that the plethora of freelancers available, and you can see how diluted and diverse the voices have become.

With the advent of digital technology, the channels available for communicating with the consumer are practically endless. Campaigns are not held to a simple standard of print, radio, and TV. I find myself lost in choice. If, as Marshall McLuhan said, the medium is the message, then holy shit––that’s a ton of messages to be mindful of for one campaign! (It should be noted that McLuhan would have celebrated his 100th birthday next month, too.)

How do you shout the loudest in a crowded room? How do you stand out in a sea of similar? Who are today’s leaders, and how do you know that what they’re saying is even remotely credible?

Author: Eric Swenson


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