Back in 1983 David Ogilvy wrote a seminal text called simply ‘Ogilvy on Advertising’ in which he detailed the experience he had gleaned in over 30 years in Advertising and summarised into one text the basic principles of great advertising that works.
The book is a classic and one that I occasionally re read as there is so much great insight in there which is equally applicable in today’s digital environment as it was back in the eighties when the internet was just a gleam in someone’s eye.
One of the most intriguing parts of it however, apart from all the sage advice and clear insight, is the very last chapter which is entitled ‘I predict 13 changes’ in which he reluctantly (after pressure from his publisher) predicts what will happen in the years after 1983. You can make your own minds up as to how prescient the man was; here’s his list.
1. The quality of research will improve, and this will generate a bigger corpus of knowledge as to what works and what doesn’t. Creative people will learn to exploit this knowledge, thereby improving their strike rate at the cash register.
2. There will be a renaissance in print advertising
3. Advertising will contain more information and less hot air
4. Billboards will be abolished
5. The clutter of commercials on television and radio will be brought under control
6. There will be a vast increase in the use of advertising by governments for the purposes of education, particularly health education
7. Advertising will play a part in bringing the population explosion under control
8. Candidates for political office will stop using dishonest advertising.
9. The quality and efficiency of advertising overseas will continue to improve – at an accelerating rate. More foreign tortoises will overtake the American hare.
10. Several foreign agencies will open offices in the United States, and will prosper.
11. Multinational manufacturers will increase their market shares all over the non-Communist world, and will market more of their brands internationally. The advertising campaigns for these brands will emanate from the headquarters of multinational agencies, but will be adapted to respect differences in local culture.
12. Direct response advertising will cease to be a separate speciality and will be folded into ‘general’ agencies
13. Ways will be found to produce effective television commercials at a more sensible cost.
David Ogilvy passed away in 1999 but not before many of his predictions in the list above came to pass. Whilst the internet became a massive disruptor in the advertising field, it also helped to bring about much of what he had predicted almost a quarter of a century earlier. In fact the only points above that don’t seem to have a happened are points four and seven, but it can’t be long before the latter of these comes to pass. Which just leaves point four – any takers?