Ogilvy on Advertising: I Predict 13 Changes

David Ogilvy on language
“I have never been a futurist, and every passing year my interest in the future declines,” says David Ogilvy in the closing of his book On Advertising, a classic.

When his publisher asked him to predict the changes we will see in the ad business from his vantage point of industry leader writing somewhere in 1985, he says:

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, therefore 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 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 specialty, and will be folded into 'general' agencies.

13. Ways will be found to produce effective television commercials at a more sensible cost.

A strong believer in research, Ogilvy put strong emphasis on the big idea. With the caveat that “If it doesn't sell, it isn't creative.”