I've got a question. Why are all of us enlightened social media/Web 2.0 gurus picking on David Ogilvy lately? More than once during yesterday's Business Development Institute conference on The Social Consumer, David's name was brought up in "then vs. now" scenarios. Yet, in 1962, Time called him "the most sought-after wizard in today's advertising industry." (Maybe David Ogilvy did preach to a gullible public, but at least it was interesting and compelling.)
For sure, now we need to connect; we need to listen; we need to -- ENGAGE (there's that word again). But we also need: the wizards, the curators, the maverick renegades to lead the way. Inspiration never comes by consensus.
Perhaps, Ogilvy's now seemingly heavy-handed method worked then because he knew how to hear without the spiffy tools we have helping us today. I think we're losing sight of the dynamic combination necessary which is ever-more critical now that the gullible war-trodden consumer is gone.
Years ago, I worked for a brilliant editor by the name of Phyllis Sweed (although I don't think at the time I appreciated exactly how brilliant she was). When Ms. Sweed was asked by our publisher to survey our readers to ask what they wanted. Her response was "They don't know what they want." And, as publishers do, he persisted and money was spent to discover that the readers didn't really know what they wanted. In fact, it was more powerful that Ms. Sweed and her crew had developed long-standing relationships meeting and hearing their readers. And always posing the question "What if we did this?" That's what gets a b2b print publication closer to its 100th year.
So let's promise each other that there's always something more inspiring, more provocative to be accepted if it just gets pushed a bit. And stop using David Ogilvy as a scape goat. The man worked for the British Intelligence Service for heaven sake's. I'd assume he knew how to listen first before he slammed it home.