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10 "Secret Ingredients" that make Ogilvy's Advertising effective

Updated on June 26, 2015

At Ogilvy, the philosophy is very much business-oriented. Their work does not only reflect their agency's creativity, but also a deep understanding and caring about the business aspects of their clients. Their strong co-operation with other parties (research agency, client, media agency), in my opinion, is the reason why it has created a strong foundation in this industry. Based on that co-operation, they have built an effective formula, which are tested and proven by figures over and over again. Let's unveil those Secret Ingredients.

Warning: This post could change totally your viewpoint on what effective advertising is and how to build them.

To those who argue creativity has no position on business, Ogilvy as the top leader in the business has confirmed this strongly: CREATIVITY SELLS. And creativity is the difference between the ineffective and effective ones. Looking at the IPA Effectiveness Awards, it shows that between the group of advertising winning creative awards and the group not wining, the effectiveness difference is huge (See Graph below).


Creative work maximises the campaign exposure, and more exposure means more sales in numbers. According to the modern advertising model of AISAS (Attention- Interest- Search- Action- Share), creativity will help boost the "SHARE", circulating the campaign in a much wider network, generating much more exposure than an uncreative campaign.

This is the most often underestimated issue among the agency. If your agency wants to please the client, you better focus on their ultimate sales. This is the secret ingredient that makes Ogilvy the most business-minded creative agency. In fact, it has been shown by Les Binet and Peter Field: campaign with hard objectives (sales objectives) is more effective than campaign with soft objectives (communication objectives).


At Ogilvy, they aim to solve the client's business problem, not just communication problem. That's the reason why their advertising campaign is not creative for the purpose of creativity. It sells. A lot.

It is similar to when you do exercise, you always look beyond the limit of your physical strength. A mind that is prepared to go far will go far. Fame in this context is more than how consumers are aware of the brand. With fame, a small brand with tiny market share can create Top Of Mind. It gets people notice and talk about. Again, fame means more exposure and exposure equals money.

The big IdeaL is Ogilvy's trademark thinking that puts them at the top of the advertising competition. In short, the big ideaLTM is more than a business slogan. It is the core mission of how it can change the world into a better place. I apologize in advance to the Ogilvy people if they find this summary inccorect.

Fill in the blank and you have the big ideaL
Fill in the blank and you have the big ideaL

The big ideaL is beyond the functional benefits of the brand. They have a mission and a vision of how it can contribute to our living world. The brand does not live for its own business benefits, but serve as a social and cultural stimulator or contributor. If the brand can stand for something much appreciated by the society and culture, it can create great extra exposure. The graph below shows the great difference it can make between brand big ideaL and its growth potential. The highest quartile in the graph contains brands that own excellent big ideaLs.

This is one of the most hottest controversial among the marketing and communication community these days. For the traditional approach, we learn that spending money on loyal customers will be less expensive than recruiting the new ones. But that is the past. The new era shows a terrible declination of consumers towards brands. There is rarely such thing as a brand love and brand fan for 99.9% of the brands. Not talking about Apple or Harley-Davidson whose consumers are super-loyal, the rest of brands can hardly sustain brand loyalty.

This Penetration Priority is proven under research, which shows a correlation between penetration and market share. If the business has problems with its market share or wants to increase it, the best way to do it is increasing penetration, or in other words, the percentage of the target market buying our brand. See the graph below for illustration.

Emotion can bring brands to Fame

If you haven't read "Brain. Behaviour. Story" of Christopher Graves talking about how people really make decisions, read it. His article explains scientifically how we decide one thing from another. The conclusion of the article is remarkable, but not new and not everyone knows it:
"We are not thinking machines that feel. We are feeling machines that think."

Emotion is the main culprit behind all those suspected rationale and logic. Whatever rationale or logical thinking we think our decision is, behind it is always a strong emotional ground. The research shows clearly that emotion-based campaigns work much better than informative ones (see graph below).

Someone says TVC is going to be dead in the future. Personally, I don't believe this. TV is an irreplaceable channel, and will remain as the main channel at least for the next 100 years around the globe. The digital world will not kill TV, but instead leverages the growth of it. Someday, the word TV will be easily misunderstood, as people now start to watch TV content not only on Television, but also on different channels: mobile, laptop, tablet, and who knows. TV, as a mass media channel, is the king of bringing fame to brands. This fact noone can deny.

Integration here refers to 2 meanings: first, the campaign using different platforms to deliver the message, and secondly, the campaign delivering one and only one consistent message across all channels.

As displayed in the graph below, an adequate usage of different channels can increase the effectiveness of the advertising campaign. If there are only few channels, brands cannot create enough impact to move the consumers. In contrast, if there are too many channels, it is harder for brand to control every message and execution on each platform to be consistent, thus creating back-fire effect.

So what are the steps to determine which channel we should go with?

Step 1: put the business challenge on top

Step 2: the objective of this campaign (to be specific in terms of behavior change)

Step 3: Based on the Behavioral objectives, choose the media channel that can help reach the goal.


This ingredient can annoy many people, because after all, isn't all of what we have been struggling for is to be interesting?

Yes, but it is still good to repeat this over and over again until we can understand it deeply. To be interesting is to be shareable and PR-able. For any campaign of yours, imagine how you want your campaign to make the headline of tomorrow's newspapers. If you cannot find any angles of making a newspaper shoutout about your campaign, then it is not interesting enough. Think, in terms of an ordinary consumer, what they would be normally interested in when scanning the news.

I always see Marketing expenditure is an investment that brings back more money rather than just spending.In reality, it is more than investment, but a must-investment. Because if you stops Marketing, sales will be heavily affected.

It has been shown with evidence brands that reduce their Share of Voice experience a decrease in Sales. Advertising is not to boost sales, because "boost" is a short-term descriptive word. Advertising is to grow sales. And effective advertising will help you save that investment costs.

Reference: The Ogilvy & Mather guide to effectiveness by Tim Broadbent- Worldwide Effectiveness Director

Which of the special ingredients you find most useful?

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    • tranthanhlam profile image
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      Tran Thanh Lam 2 years ago from Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam

      Thanks very much CrisSp! Yep, Ogilvy employees are very loyal, having the lowest turn over rate among agency

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 2 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Nice work. My hubby works with Ogilvy all his life. I'll pass this hub to him and see what he says about it.

      Cheers!

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