Ogilvy opportunity on the BBC for John Hegarty and the IPA’s Nicola Mendelsohn

And when the opportunity arises you’ve got to make the best of it.

Which both Nicola Mendelsohn, boss of Karmarama and president of UK agency trade body the IPA, and the sainted Sir John Hegarty (pictured) both did this morning on the BBC’s Today Programme.

The opportunity arose because David Ogilvy’s seminal ‘Confessions of an advertising man’ is being re-published after 60 years or so and they were both invited to chat to Today’s Justin Webb about it.

Mendelsohn liked it, saying it showed the application of robust common sense and the importance of that ad agency holy grail the ‘big idea.’

Hegarty agreed about the big idea but thought that Ogilvy, with his ‘ten rules’ was too prescriptive. Hegarty says he read the book in 1965 and then, I suspect, his reaction was a bit more forceful.

Ogilvy (pictured) was really a direct marketer who was fixated on the virtues of research, much like the man he (reluctantly) sold his agency to, WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell.

Hegarty, like his peers Charles Saatchi, Paul Weiland, Alan Waldie, John Webster and others, thought then that Ogilvy was an old fart whose diktats got in the way of really creative advertising which, as he says in the interview, was about breaking rules rather than adhering to them. They were all Bill Bernbach men, who wasn’t a fan of Ogilvy’s either.

Ogilvy & Mather, in the UK anyway, was always a school for account men rather than creatives. It produced Michael Baulk who provided the account discipline that still pervades the agency he went on to run, Abbot Mead Vickers, now AMV/BBDO and by far the UK’s biggest agency. But AMV’s biggest influence was founder and creative director David Abbott and Abbott would never have risen to such dizzy heights at Ogilvy.

Anyway it’s an interesting short radio piece and worth a listen. And Mendelsohn, who knows an opportunity when she sees one, and Hegarty make the best use of their six minutes of free BBC airtime.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.