A famous adman (who wasn't David Ogilvy) once accused advertising creatives of practicing black magic. He said, "They listen to voodoo drums, whisper magic incantations, and mix in their potions, eye of newt and toe of frog."
If that is true, then I am proud to present to you this book of truly spellbinding work. The ads in this volume are not just the best of Ogilvy this year, but maybe of all years. With the help of this work, we achieved the impossible: winning Network of the Year at Cannes for the third time in a row.
Winning this coveted title was the first time—for the first time in our history—was something I never imagined we could repeat. No one did. When we defied the odds and won it the second time, it was deeply gratifying. It meant that no one could say we had won by fluke. But the pressure it put us under was intense. Every year it gets harder—the quality rises, the bar gets higher, and we all have to work harder and longer. And yet we did it for the third time.
My thanks go to each and every one of you, and to my partner, Miles, for his unstinting support of our quest.
The man who accused creatives of witchcraft was Rosser Reeves. He hailed from the old school of advertising of the ‘50s, in which the aim was to endlessly bash viewers over the head with a slogan until they begged for mercy.
But the creative revolution on Madison Avenue in the late '50s and early '60s offered an alternative to mindless repetition. Charm. Imagination. Great storytelling.
The wizardry on display here follows in that tradition: skillfully presented stories that touch the heart, brilliantly told.
But these ads are not just showboating; they also weave their magic at the cash register. They impact the bottom line because running through the DNA of this agency is the "Twin Peaks" philosophy of our founding father, David Ogilvy. Creative brilliance and commercial effectiveness must go hand in hand. As a former salesman who learned early on that if you don’t sell, you don’t eat, David Ogilvy never lost sight of the fact that advertising is a business.
It used to be the case that charm, wit, and exceptional storytelling were optional. Boring ads repeated often enough could also work. But nowadays, with the unstoppable rise of social media, the ability to enchant people has become mandatory. If you run a boring ad, social media will curse you to death—or worse, ignore you. Clients recognize this too. That’s why more and more, in the wake of our success, are knocking on our door. They’ve seen how hocus-pocus impacts the bottom line.
They ring me up and ask for black magic.
I tell them, "No, we call it Red Magic."
Tham Khai Meng
Worldwide Chief Creative Officer
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