Direct Marketing — Saving Advertising From Its “Manifold Lunacies” for 40 Years

With Structural Graphics’ 40th anniversary coming up next year, we’ve been reflecting on the history of advertising.

Image unknown via
Image unknown via

Did you know that one of the most prolific advertising icons in history believed direct mail to be the “reality” of the future of advertising and marketing? Despite the fact that, at the time he said this, TV commercials were well on their way to saturating more and more of the television market?

That icon was David Ogilvy. And while Ogilvy may have been a number of things in his lifetime including, chef in training, door-to-door salesman, researcher and farmer, he is most widely known as “The Father of Advertising,” and the man behind one of the most successful advertising agencies in the world, Ogilvy & Mather.

“We Sell or Else,” Ogilvy’s videotaped keynote address, presented to colleagues during an industry conference in the 1960s, is an ode to direct marketers — and a call for advertising agencies to utilize the expertise of direct marketers who “know to the dollar” what works and what doesn’t when it comes to connecting businesses with people.

Direct response people know what kind of advertising works and what doesn’t . You know that headlines and copy about the product and its benefits sell more than cute headlines and poetic copy — you know to a dollar. On your side of the chasm, I see knowledge and reality. On the other side of the chasm, I see ignorance… You have it in your power to rescue the advertising business from its manifold lunacies.

When I started Ogilvy & Mather in New York, nobody had heard of us, but we were airborne within six months and grew at record speed. How did we achieve that? By using my secret weapon: direct mail. Every four weeks, I sent personalized mailings to our new business prospects. I was always amazed to discover how many of our clients had been attracted to Ogilvy & Mather by those mailings. That was how we grew.” — David Ogilvy, “We Sell or Else”

While so much of the world has changed since Ogilvy’s address, so many things haven’t. Brands can still stand out with our kind of individualized, tactile mailings and interactive print tools. Much like those mailings that grew Ogilvy & Mather, businesses can create marketing that feels right and succeeds.

That’s what why we’re still at it… Working with our team of marketing experts, designers and paper engineers to craft business communications that speak more than a television commercial, e-mail or social media campaign ever can. To put your business not just in their eyes and ears, but in their hands too. In nearly 40 years a lot has changed, but not that.

Watch Ogilvy’s 6-minute video below.

And this Polygon Pop Up [VIDEO] set to French pop music is fun too.

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