David Ogilvy would have been 100 today.
I spent my formative years at Ogilvy & Mather, going there straight from Duquesne University and leaving 15 years later with a grasp of brand strategy, integrated marketing, global branding, and most importantly, the value of big creative ideas. O&M helped me grow up professionally and personally, and I am forever grateful.
In those days Ogilvy was a "teaching hospital" – you learned while you practiced your craft. In addition to formal training programs we were inspired by the ever-present Ogilvy-isms – a body of "how to" principles for creating effective advertising.
Even though David had long since retired to his chateau in France by the time I joined O&M, I did have one memorable encounter with the man. We were pitching Jaguar Cars on the Friday afternoon before the Memorial Day weekend, but half the agency had left early for the long weekend. So we created the perception of a bustling shop by moving people around the building by walkie-talkie (in the days before cell phones) as we led the clients to various pitch rooms. In in the midst of this logistically complex pitch I heard that David Ogilvy was in town and wanted to meet the clients. What could be better than to have the man who penned the famous Rolls Royce ads meet the gentlemen from Jaguar Cars? David entered the final room on the walking pitch, introduced himself, and asked the clients to leave with him. For 15 minutes, Charlotte Beers, Graham Phillips, Bill Hamilton, Rick Boyko, Kelly O'Dea and I, sat there with absolutely no clue where he had taken them (fearing that I had not only lost the pitch, but I had literally lost the clients). We later found them huddled in David's office. It seems David needed to pee, so he brought them to the men's room, then to his office to hear his wisdom.
We won the account – my first victory leading a pitch.
Thank you, David Ogilvy.