David Ogilvy was a British advertising executive, known for his focus on in-depth research into customer segments and getting real results for clients.
The legacy of David Ogilvy was built from his strict adherence to a four-point foundational philosophy: creative brilliance, research, actual results, and professional discipline. His career started with recognition for his professional discipline, his attempt to thoroughly remove risk from the process of sales. He received an offer from the London advertising agency Mather & Crowther to become an account executive on the basis of his ability to sell cooking stoves.
Ogilvy refined his appreciation for research working with Gallup's Audience Research Institute in 1938. During World War II, he transferred his knowledge into the war effort by working in the British Intelligence Service, publishing a report on diplomacy and security that got the attention of Eisenhower's Psychological Warfare Board.
Sometime after the war, Ogilvy moved to Manhattan and started his own advertising agency based on his principles, with the backing of his old associates Mather and Crowther. Ogilvy was especially adamant about the function of advertising being to sell, and that successful advertising was based on information about the consumer.
Taken at face value, it's easy to ignore or forget Ogilvy's fanaticism over research when presented with his quote, "If it doesn't sell, it isn't creative." The straightforward interpretation might be that creativity is paramount, and nothing else matters so long as your approach is creative.
Instead, Ogilvy might have meant that creativity is a capstone to the rest of the process. After the discipline to engage in the due diligence of in-depth research every time, you would have more information about the target customer than any other agency might have. And having that advantage is a waste if you don't take the creative approach, informed by the data you've received.
"If it doesn't sell, it isn't creative." is almost formulaic. Consider it as an if-then statement: If it isn't creative, it won't sell. To get the results and sales that you're after, you must stand out, be unique, present creatively.
When you read David Ogilvy's quote, what do you think of? How does it apply to your business or product? Join the conversation below or stop by Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest to discover more inspiring advertising quotes and let us know what you take from this Ogilvy quote.