Ogilvy on Enjoying our Work

Ogilvy Guiness Guide to Oysters

“Cosimo de Medici persuaded Benvenuto Cellini, the Florentine sculptor, to enter his service by writing him a letter which concluded, 'Come, I will choke you with gold.'”

A quote opening the chapter on jobs in advertising and how to get them in David Ogilvy's classic book On Advertising.

The image above is an ad David Ogilvy wrote for Guinness as head of his own agency at 39. To specific and factual descriptions are a very personal, direct, and natural style of storytelling.

Each oyster image has its caption and Ogilvy provides rich descriptions formatting them as mini-sagas. Take the Cape Cods, for example. He says:

An oyster of superb flavor. Its chief enemy is the starfish, which wraps its arms about the oyster and forces the valves open with its feet. The battle lasts for hours, until the starfish is rewarded with a good meal, but alas, no Guinness.

How about the Bluepoints:

These delicious little oysters from Great South Bay somewhat resemble the famous English 'natives' of which Disraeli wrote: “I dined or rather supped at the Carlton … off oysters, Guinness and broiled bones, and got to bed at half past twelve. Thus ended the most remarkable day hitherto of my life.”

For lovers of the Delaware Bay, he says:

This was William Penn's favorite oyster. Only 15% of oysters are eaten on the half-shell. The rest find their way into stews, or end their days in a blaze of glory as “Angels on Horseback.” One oyster was distinctly heard to whistle.

Regardless of which oysters we like or choose:

All oysters test their best when washed down with drafts of Guinness — what Professor Saintsbury in “Notes on a Cellar-Book” called “that noble liquor – the comeliest of black malts.” Most of the malt used in brewing Guinness comes from the fertile farms of Southern Ireland, and the yeast used by Guinness in Dublin one hundred and ninety years ago.

In small sprint below this copy, the secondary call to action that reinforces the main one:

For a free reprint of this advertisement, suitable for framing, write Arthur Guinness Son & Co., Inc., 47-24 27th Street, Long Island City, New York.

The ad is from 1951. It's the work of a person who enjoys his craft.


Benvenuto Cellini was a polymath (Who are the new polymaths?) — an Italian goldsmith, sculptor, draftsman, soldier, musician, and artist who also wrote a famous autobiography and poetry#. Therefore the quote above about Cosimo de Medici promising gold is even more interesting. Cosimo de Medici was a sponsor of the arts, uniting all public services into a single building, the Uffizi (“Offices.”#


There is a story behind every relationship, including the one we have with our work and that we have with our self. That story reflects in our product and behavior.