In 1968, David Ogilvy set this down:
"...Nor do I seek to freeze the style of Ogilvy & Mather after I retire.
[To me this resonates with the idea that a set of rules or regulations can tend to only freeze best ideas at that time. Innovation will always conflict with regulation, as rules ossify. See my commentary on John Kay.]
I hope that future generations will improve upon the Principles I enunciate in this paper...
- To serve our clients more effectively than any other agency.
- To earn an increased profit every year
- To maintain high ethical standards
- To run the agency with a sense of competitive urgency
- To keep our services up-to-date
- To Make Ogilvy & Mather the most exciting agency to work in
- To earn the respect of the community
On Profit: in business to earn a profit through superior service... we must pursue profit - not billing. The chief opportunities for increasing profit lie in:
... separating passengers without delay... discontinuing boondoggles and obsolete services:
To keep your ship moving through the water at maximum efficiency, you have to keep scraping the barnacles off its bottom. It is rare for a department head to recommend the abolition of a job, or even the elimination of a man; the pressure from below is always for adding. If the initiative for barnacle-scraping does not come from Management, barnacles will never be scraped
[is this Ogilvy recommending zero based budgeting before ZBB became a management movement? "I've never heard a budget that can't be justified" one CEO told me.]
Avoiding duplication of function - two men doing a job which one can do... reducing wheel-spinning in the creative area [easier said than done though]
On Morale: Ad agencies are fertile ground for office politics. You should hard to minimise them, because they take up energy which can better be devoted to our clients; some agencies have been destroyed by internal politics.
- Always be fair an honest in your own dealings; unfairness and dishonesty at the top can demoralise an agency.
- Never hire relatives or friends.
- Sack incurable politicians.
- Crusade against paper warfare. Encourage your people to air their disagreements face-to-face [I think we've lost this battle on Twitter etc.]
- Discourage secrecy.
- Discourage poaching
- compose sibling rivalries.
I want all our people to believe that they are working in the best agency in the world. A sense of pride works wonders.
The best way to "install a generator" in a man is to give him the greatest responsibility. Treat your subordinates as grown-ups - and they will grow up. Help them when they are in difficulty. Be affectionate and human, not cold and impersonal.
It is vitally important to encourage free communication upward. Encourage your people to be candid with you. Ask their advice - and listen to it.
Hard work never killed a man. Men die of boredom, psychological conflict and disease. They do not die of hard work.
While you are responsible to your clients for sales results, you are also responsible to consumers for kind of advertising you bring into their homes. Your aim should be to create advertising that is in good taste. I abhor advertising that is blatant, dull, or dishonest. Agencies which transgress this principle are not widely respected.