Strategic Advertising, Ogilvy-Style

You could spend a great deal of time talking about David Ogilvy’s tactics and “how-to’s” of advertising and marketing. After all, he did establish the world’s biggest advertising firm, Ogilvy and Mather. But what about his more strategic perspectives on advertising? What could a company take away as key principles of advertising?

First of all, Ogilvy believed that a company is sure to fail if they cut off long-term advertising initiatives for short term promotions. While short-term promotions have their place, the strategic principle here is to keep the advertising dollars in place. Do not trade short-term promotions for advertising campaigns.

This principle follows from the first: advertising is all about reinforcement, not conversion. While converting customers from a competitor is certainly an important role of advertising, the primary purpose should be reinforcing the company’s brand. When building advertising campaigns, the strategic message here is to reinforce why and how the company’s products improve the quality of life of the customer. In the long term, conversions will take place on their own.

Most importantly, Ogilvy taught that advertising should be considered part of the product, not a selling cost. When counting the costs of launching a product, advertising should be included in the unit costs. Strategically, this ensures that advertising capital is always available for reinforcing the product to consumers.

The strategic principles from David Ogilvy applied to small and big businesses alike. While it is important to understand fundamental advertising tactics, keeping the big picture of strategic vision for advertising is vital.

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