David Oglivy was an accomplished advertising executive who has often been called “The Father of Advertising.In 1962, Time called him “the most sought-after wizard in today’s advertising industry.” He was known for a career of expanding the bounds of both creativity and morality.
In 1982, David Ogilvy sent these tips within an internal memo to all agency employees, titled “How to Write”:
The better you write, the higher you go in Ogilvy & Mather. People who think well, write well. Woolly minded people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches. Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well. Here are 10 hints:
- Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.
- Write the way you talk. Naturally.
- Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.
- Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.
- Never write more than two pages on any subject.
- Check your quotations.
- Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning—and then edit it.
- If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.
- Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.
- If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.
Okay – some of the items he refers to are a bit outdated — memo/letter, ‘the guy’ — but there are some true gems here. Take them to heart and abide by them.
P.S. If you would like to tap into someone who writes well – you need to contact Mimi Griffith at Griffith Target Marketing. She’s the best.