In 1951 a Maine shirt firm with a tiny budget hired David Ogilvy to launch a national ad campaign. On his way to the photo shoot, the British-born college dropout stopped at a drugstore and bought a black $1 eye patch. Several months later, a New Yorker magazine ad showed a white-haired, debonair-looking man with a patch over his right eye. Underneath the photo was the line, “The man in the Hathaway shirt.”
n the next five decades, the tall, elegant Scotsman built Ogilvy & Mather into one of the world’s biggest ad agencies, created some of advertising’s most memorable icons and helped boost a creative revolution that changed the American marketing landscape in the 1960s.
In Good Company
A top wordsmith and businessman, Ogilvy landed accounts with IBM (IBM), Shell Oil (RDSA), American Express (AXP) and Sears (SHLD), wrote a seminal book on the ad business and was called by many “The Father of Modern Advertising.”
“Ogilvy was definitely one of the pioneers, one of the original Mad men who led the charge,” Greg Wagner, a University of Denver Daniels School of Business marketing lecturer, told IBD. “Before the creative revolution, advertising was a very hard sell. The commercials would almost irritate you, pounding and pounding away at the same point.
“Ogilvy and others said, ‘You can sell with cool and creative. You can sell by being funny, by being ironic, by charm.’ … Yet Ogilvy not only had a reputation for being very creative; his work sold. When you have big, major brands, you have to sell the brand, you have to move the needle, not only on brand awareness, but with market share and sales results. His work always did that because his work was enduring. The Hathaway shirt guy was around for years.”