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This article was written on 12 Aug 2014, and is filled under AGA History.

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David Ogilvy and AGA Advertising in the 1930s

David Ogilvy, the King of Madison Avenue and hailed as The Father of Advertising, began his advertising career in 1931 when he started selling AGA cookers for Allied Ironfounders.  He was so successful at this undertaking that he was asked to write a manual for other salesman – ‘The Theory and practice of selling the AGA Cooker‘. This booklet was descried by Fortune magazine as the best sales manual ever written.

Ogilvy set up Allied Ironfounders’ Advertising department and in 1937 he produced a remarkable strategy paper – ‘A Critical survey of Some Aspects of Marketing and Advertising Activities of Allied Ironfounders’. Here you can have a look at two memorable quotations from the paper:

AGA stands today as the one and only name for heat-storage equipment. The future must see one name for Allied gas equipment, another for Allied baths, and another for Allied coal-burning appliances other than AGA. We recommend that the total number of names be gradually reduced to a maximum of six so that advertising which must for the present remain  purely eclectic in its choice of subject, may come to embrace every Allied product.

Good work nearly always costs more than bad work.

In 1964 David Ogilvy found a copy of ‘A Critical Survey’ and he sent the excerpts below to his Board colleagues commenting:

It proves two things:

A) At 25 I was brilliantly clever; and

B) I have learned nothing new in the subsequent 27 years.

The excerpts selected by Ogilvy were:

  • Every advertisement must tell the whole sales story because the public does not read advertisements in series.
  • The copy must be human and very simple , keyed right down to its market – a market in which self-conscious artwork and fine language serve only to make buyers wary.
  • Every word in the copy must count. Concrete figures must be substituted for atmospheric claims; cliches must give way to facts, and empty exhortations to alluring offers.
  • Facetiousness in advertising is a device dear to the amateur but anathema to the advertising agent who knows that permanent success has rarely been built on frivolity and that people do not buy from clowns.
  • Superlatives belong to the marketplace and have no place in a serious advertisement; they lead readers to discount the realism of every claim.
  • Apparent monotony of treatment must be tolerated because only the manufacturer reads all his own advertisements.

 

We are lucky to have in our AGA Archives Ogilvy’s first ever advertisements:

AGA/M/2/2/3/1/37 DejeunerAGACooker

AGA/M/2/2/3/1/38 AGA/M/2/2/3/1/39 AGA/M/2/2/3/1/42

 

The use of art in these advertisements reminds the recent campaign ‘Art Everywhere‘. Each advertisement educates, pleases the senses and builds the image of the product as a work of art.The able use of colour, images and text and design grab the attention from the first instant.

‘During my career in advertising I have sold scores of good products -  all the way from IBM computers to Rolls Royce cars. The AGA cooker is the best of them all. I have been cooking on one ever since I graduated from the kitchens of the Hotel Majestic in Paris. I could not live without it. ‘

David Ogilvy

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