Posted by : Jared Kisten Friday, 2 October 2015

Decimal: Honouring the Legends

Everything in life is derived from a legend: the story of a person that is handed down from generation to generation, and respected by all that follow.

For maths it was John Nash,, Blaise Pascal, Pythagoras and Isaac Newton. Scientists talk about Marie Curie, Charles Darwin, Archimedes and Albert Einstein. Artists find their inspiration from Leonardo Da Vinci, Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt and  Michelangelo.

But who were some of the biggest game-changers in Advertising, and what did they do?

1. David Mackenzie Ogilvy: Born on 23 June 1911, Ogilvy was a Gaelic-speaking Highlander.  He started his writing career by selling AGA cooking stoves door-to-door. Because of his success in this, his employers asked him to write an instruction manual  on how to sell the stoves. Thirty years later, Fortune Magazine editors called it the greatest sales manual ever written.

After showing the manual to a London-based Advertising Agency, Mather & Crowther, Ogilvy was employed as an Account Executive.

In 1949, Ogilvy started Ogilvy, Benson and Mather on the principle: the function of advertising is to sell, and successful advertising for any product is based on information about its consumer.

10 years later, Ogilvy had built one of the biggest Advertising Agencies in the world and was dubbed “The father of advertising”. In 1962 Times Magazine crowned him “the most sought-after wizard in today’s advertising industry”. His advertising principles were based on research, actual results for clients (rather than seeking creative recognition), professional discipline and establishing “the Big Idea”. Principles that are still applied to advertising today.

2. William (Bill) Bernbach: Bernbach was born in America on 3 August 1911. Growing up in the Bronx, Bernbach worked hard to get his degree in English, with additional subjects in business administration, philosophy and music. In 1933 he was given the opportunity to run the Schenley Distillers mailroom, which lead to writing his first advert for Schenley’s Cream Whiskey. The advert reached the right people and Bernbach was moved to the advertising department.

In 1940, Bernbach started working as a Copywriter for the William Weintraub Agency, followed by a position at Grey Advertising where he was promoted to Creative Director in 1947.
Frustrated with the predictability of the agency’s work, Bernbach wrote the following letter:

“There are a lot of great technicians in advertising. And unfortunately they talk the best game. They know all the rules. They can tell you that people in an ad will get you greater readership. They can tell you that a sentence should be this sort or that long. They can tell you that body copy should be broken up for easier reading. They can give you fact after fact after fact. They are the scientists of advertising. But there’s one little rub. Advertising is fundamentally persuasion and persuasion happens to be not a science, but an art.”

By 1949, he teamed up with Ned Doyle and Mac Dane to start DDB, where he served as the creative engine of the agency. DDB grew to become the 11th largest agency in America by 1976.

However, Bernbach’s contribution to advertising wasn’t just commercial. Noted for his devotion to creativity and off-beat themes, characterised by simplicity, Bernbach has made a lasting impact on the creative structure and principles used in advertising agencies today.

Historians have also credited him with being a major driving force in the Creative Revolution of the 1960’s and 70’s. In 1969, Bernbach was named “The Top Ad Agency Executive”.

3. Leo Burnett: Leo Burnett was born on 21 October 1891 and started his career running a dry-goods store with his father. He opted to study for a degree in Journalism and finally graduated in 1914. Hi first job was as a reported for the Journal Star in Illinois.

In 1917 Burnett made his first of many moves to Detroit in order to become the in-house editor for Cadillac Clearing House. He was later promoted to Art Director. Burnett was offered his first position in an advertising agency, McKee, after he had moved to Indianapolis. He said of the founder “He gave me my first feel of what I have come to regard as the "warm sell" as contrasted to the "hard sell" and "soft sell."

In 1935 Burnett founded the Leo Burnett Company and created world famous campaigns, such as Tony the Tiger, Charlie the Tuna, etc. He also garnered relationships with multinational clients, including McDonald’s and Coca-Cola.

Known for his use of corny language, Burnett used a dramatic realism and soft sell approach in order to build brand equity, rather than sell products. He believed in finding the inherent drama of products and presenting it in a warm, emotional way.

This lead to Burnett being named, by Time Magazine in 1999, as one of 100 most influential people, and creating a very different approach to advertising.

Taking the influence of each of these legends into consideration, Decimal aims to learn from their contribution to successful advertising today. By researching, thinking out the bos, or just taking a more emotional stance. Decimal hits the ball out the ballpark to sit with the Giants of Advertising. We turn our good into better, and our better into best.

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