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How to create advertising that sells

The “Father of Advertising,” David Ogilvy, and founder of Ogilvy & Mather is one of the greats. In this advertisement/advertorial, “How to create advertising that sells,” you’ll see tons of great ideas to help you in your business. Ogilvy is one source I fall back to over and over again as his company actually did research. They created over $1,480,000,000 worth of advertising, andspent $4,900,000 tracking the results. Here, with all the dogmatism of brevity, are 8 of the things we have learned.


We have learned that the effect of your advertising on your sales depends more on this decision than on any other: how should you position your product?

Should you position Schweppes as a soft drink – or as a mixer?

Should you position Dove as a product for dry skin or as a product which gets hands really clean?

The results of your campaign depend less on how we write your advertising than how your product is positioned. It follows that positioning should be decided before the advertising is created.

Research can help. Look before you leap.

It pays to give most products an image of quality – a first-class ticket.

Ogilvy & Mather has been conspicuously successful in doing this – for Pepperidge, Hathaway, Mercedes Benz, Schweppes, Dove and others.

If your advertising looks ugly, consumers will conclude that your product is shoddy and they will be less likely to buy it.

The second most important decision is this: what should you promise the customer? A promise is not a claim, or a theme, or a slogan. It is a benefit for the consumer.

It pays to promise a benefit which is unique and competitive, and the product must deliver the benefit your promise.

Most advertising promises nothing. It is doomed to fail in the marketplace.

”Promise, large promise, is the soul of an advertisement” – said Samuel Johnson.

Nobody was ever bored into buying a product. Yet most advertising is impersonal, detached, cold – and dull.

It pays to involve the customer.

Talk to her like a human being. Charm her. Make her hungry. Get her to participate.

Every advertisement should contribute to the complex symbol which is the brand image. 95% of all advertising is created ad hoc. Most products lack any consistent image from one year to another.

The manufacturer who dedicates his advertising to building the most sharply defined personality for his brand gets the largest share of the market.

The pursuit of creative awards seduces creative people from the pursuit of sales.

We have been unable to establish any correlation whatever between awards and sales.

At Ogilvy and Mather, we now give an annual award for the campaign which contributes the most to sales.

Successful advertising sells the product without drawing attention to itself, it rivets the consumer’s attention on the product.

Make the product the hero of your advertising.

Unless your advertising is built on a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night.

It takes a BIG IDEA a to jolt the consumer out of his indifference – to make him notice your advertising, remember it and take action.

Big ideas are usually simple ideas. Said Charles Kettering, the great General Motors inventor: “this problem, when solved, will be simple.”

BIG SIMPLE IDEAS are not easy to come by. They require genius – and midnight oil. A truly big one can be continued for 20 years – like our eye patch for Hathaway shirts.

Start trends – instead of following them. Advertising which follows a fashionable fad or is imitative, is seldom successful.

It pays to innovate, to blaze new trails.

But innovation is risky unless you pre-test your innovation with consumers. Look before you leap.

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