David Ogilvy once said, "Unless your advertising contains a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night."
I'm sure that when he said it, everybody nodded. This was David Ogilvy after all, and it's always a good idea to nod when the boss says something profound. But I wonder how many people who nodded really knew what he meant?
We talk a lot about ideas in this business. Or more particularly, "the Idea." But we seldom define them.
Here's an attempt at a definition: An advertising idea is like a hieroglyph that takes a long, complicated sales pitch and compresses it into a single moment so that it can be understood instantaneously. That moment could make you laugh, it could make you cry, it could make you smile, or it could make you feel charmed.
That's because we recognize great ideas in our gut. They speak to the heart, not the head. They elicit an emotional response from us. There is an exquisite rightness about a great idea that transcends words.
Another way to understand the Idea is to recall how it arose. For centuries, advertisers got along fine without ideas. Street sellers in the old days went round singing:
Who will buy my sweet red roses?
Two blooms for a penny.
No awards for creativity there. Come the 1950s, however, and advertisers were bombarding poor consumers with millions of shrill messages, each trying to shout louder than the rest. Consumers stopped listening.
And so the creative revolution in the early 1960s was born as a reaction against this. Advertisers turned to wit, charm, emotion, cleverness, humor, suggestion, art. One of them was David Ogilvy, who reflected this new human approach when he famously said, "The consumer is not a moron. She is your wife." They used ideas as Trojan horses to smuggle the sales pitch past the audiences' defenses.
This volume is full of brilliant ideas which follow in that grand tradition. Thanks to all our talented and courageous people around the world, the work on show here achieved the impossible once again: Network of the Year at Cannes for the fifth year running.
This was a stunning achievement, made possible only by hard work, dedication and too many late nights at the office by everyone in the network. I invite you to take pride in that achievement and savor the wonderful pieces of work here.
I also want to thank the design and production teams in Chicago, as well as the Worldwide Creative Council for selecting the ideas you see in this 7th edition.
It takes courage to have new ideas. Very often they look strange and foolish when first thought of, like newly hatched ugly ducklings. As Mark Twain said, "The man with a new idea is a crank—until the idea succeeds."
I hope the work in this volume will inspire you and give you the courage to continue to break out of the cage of conventional thinking.
Tham Khai Meng
Worldwide Chief Creative Officer
< Back to Best of Ogilvy Volume 7