June 13, 2022

Ogilvy On Advertising

I made 63 highlights while reading Ogilvy On Advertising by David Ogilvy. The book will give you insights into how to create advertisements that sell.
  • Consumers buy products whose advertising promises; value for money, beauty, nutrition, relief from suffering, or social status.

  • Trying to use rational to persuade a consumer into choosing your brand doesn't work. You don't see Coca Cola advertising that Coke contains 50% more cola berries.

  • Sometimes the best idea is to showcase the product with utter simplicity. It takes courage because you may get accused of not being creative.

  • If you and your competitor make excellent products, don't try to imply that yours is better. Simply do a better job of highlighting the benefits of your product.

  • It's all about relevance. To show bosoms in a detergent ad would not sell detergent.

  • Testimonials from experts are persuasive. For example, a testimonial from an ex-burglar testifying that they'd never been able to crack a Chubb safe is powerful.

  • Always include the price of your products.

  • KISS - Keep It Stupid Simple.

  • Advertising is about converting the dream of your readers into action.

  • Instead of generalities, use percentages, time-elapsed, and dollars saved.

  • Consumers judge the quality of a product on its price. The higher the price, the more desirable it becomes in the eyes of the consumer.

  • British commercials tend to be less direct, less competitive, more subtle, nostalgic, funnier, and more entertaining.

  • Charm works in advertising. If you write your headlines in French, readers will assume you are advertising France.

  • Highlight things that are unique to a specific country. People don't go halfway around the world to see things they can see at home.

  • Find out the advertising your competitors are doing, and with what success.

  • Find out how consumers think about your kind of product, the language they use to discuss it, and what promise would be most likely to make them buy it.

  • The most critical variables to be tested are; pricing, terms of payment, incentives, and the format of your advertisement.

  • On a study of 731 corporations, Northwestern University found that advertising had a positive influence of 2%~ on their stock price.

  • Those who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore enemy signals.

  • Always write two advertisements for your product, and test with both of them. Continue to run the ad which converts the most readers.

  • Studies of the last six recessions have shown that companies which don't cut back their advertising budgets achieve greater increases in profits than those which do.

  • Researchers who inject bias into their reports do a lot of damage.

  • Demonstrations which show the performance of your product convert well.

  • Show the viewer a problem they're familiar with, then show them how your product can help them solve it.

  • Commercials which include a significant amount of nostalgia, charm, and sentimentality perform very well.

  • Demonstrations are most effective when they compare a competing product.

  • Viewers assume celebrities have been bought when they provide testimonials.

  • I don't want you to tell me that you find my advertisement 'creative'. I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.


  • 5x~ as many people read the headline as read the body copy.

  • Headlines which promise the reader a benefit work best. For example; 'How To Win Friends And Influence People', would attract above-average readership.

  • Your headline should do either of the following; promise a benefit, deliver news, offer a service, tell a story, recognise a problem, or quote a customer.

  • The body of your copy is occasionally read by more than 10% of readers. It's those readers who are interested in what you're selling.

  • Format your advertisements in this order; image, headline, and copy.

  • Ads with news are recalled 22%~ more than ads without news.

  • Headlines in quotes increase recall by 28%~.

  • Helpful copy is read by 75%~ more people than copy which is solely promotional.

  • Crossheads should be written in a way so that skimmers get the main points.

  • Set your copy in black type on white paper.

  • Readers tend to skip from the headline of your advertisement to the voucher. So make your voucher a mini-advertisement in itself.

  • People will read your copy alone, so pretend you're writing to them individually.

  • Write short sentences, short paragraphs, and avoid difficult words.

  • Tell your reader what your product will do for them with specifics.

  • Write your copy in the form of a story, with one line leading the other.

  • Avoid analogies. They're widely misunderstood.

  • Long copy sells more than short copy.

  • Headlines below the image are read by 10%~ more people than headlines above the image.

  • If you make your advertisements look like articles, you'll get 6x~ as many readers.

  • Never put full-stops at the end of a headline.

  • Use sub-headlines to gauge readers to dive deeper.

  • Drop initials at the start of your body copy will increase readership by 13%~.

  • Set key words, sentences, and paragraphs in bold or italics.

  • If you make a lot of unrelated facts, number them.

  • Copywriters forget they are salesmen and try to be performers.

  • Life's greatest achievements are achieved in an atmosphere of dynamic tension.

  • In a study of 70 campaigns, there was not a single before-and-after campaign which failed to increase sales.

  • Twice as many people read captions under an image so make them standalone mini-advertisements.

  • Mouth-watering images and specific how-to information is recommended.

  • Creativity is not a function of size.

  • There appears to be no correlation between leadership and academic achievement.

  • We never failed to win an account for which we competed, all we had to do was show the campaigns we had created.

  • Don't worry about the prices of your service, but rather the value you will add.

  • Tell your potential clients about your weak points before they notice them. It will make you more credible when you boast about your positives.

  • The day after a new business presentation, send the prospect a letter summarising the reasons why they should pick you.