David Ogilvy war eine der bedeutendsten Persönlichkeiten in der Geschichte der Werbung. Als Gründer von Ogilvy and Mather war er seiner Zeit verantwortlich für einige der besten Werbekampagnen der Welt. 1963 schrieb er das Buch “Confessions of an Advertising Man” – ein Bestseller, der bis heute als Pflichtlektüre für jeden gilt, der sich in der Werbebranche verdient machen möchte. Das Time Magazine kürte ihn zum “begehrtesten Werber” der 60er Jahre.

Von David Ogilvy Werbung zu lernen, heisst von den Großen zu lernen. Grund genug, sich seinen folgenden Brief genau durchzulesen. Er stammt aus dem Jahr 1955 und war an Ray Calt adressiert.

(Quelle: “The Unpublished David Ogilvy: A Selection of His Writings fromt the Files of His Partners“)

April 19, 1955

Dear Mr. Calt:

On March 22nd you wrote to me asking for some notes on my work habits as a copywriter. They are appalling, as you are about to see:

1. I have never written an advertisement in the office. Too many interruptions. I do all my writing at home.

2. I spend a long time studying the precedents. I look at every advertisement which has appeared for competing products during the past 20 years.

3. I am helpless without research material—and the more “motivational” the better.

4. I write out a definition of the problem and a statement of the purpose which I wish the campaign to achieve. Then I go no further until the statement and its principles have been accepted by the client.

5. Before actually writing the copy, I write down every concievable fact and selling idea. Then I get them organized and relate them to research and the copy platform.

6. Then I write the headline. As a matter of fact I try to write 20 alternative headlines for every advertisement. And I never select the final headline without asking the opinion of other people in the agency. In some cases I seek the help of the research department and get them to do a split-run on a battery of headlines.

7. At this point I can no longer postpone the actual copy. So I go home and sit down at my desk. I find myself entirely without ideas. I get bad-tempered. If my wife comes into the room I growl at her. (This has gotten worse since I gave up smoking.)

8. I am terrified of producing a lousy advertisement. This causes me to throw away the first 20 attempts.

9. If all else fails, I drink half a bottle of rum and play a Handel oratorio on the gramophone. This generally produces an uncontrollable gush of copy.

10. The next morning I get up early and edit the gush.

11. Then I take the train to New York and my secretary types a draft. (I cannot type, which is very inconvenient.)

12. I am a lousy copywriter, but I am a good editor. So I go to work editing my own draft. After four or five editings, it looks good enough to show to the client. If the client changes the copy, I get angry—because I took a lot of trouble writing it, and what I wrote I wrote on purpose.

Altogether it is a slow and laborious business. I understand that some copywriters have much greater facility.

Yours sincerely,