George Parker: why it’s not too late to award David Ogilvy the knighthood he richly deserves

Between copious amounts of Fourth Reich Potato Vodka during a non-stop snow storm last week, whilst flaneuring the “tubes” of the Internet, I came across a news item about the award of the Congressional Medal of Honor to First Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing 150 years after he fell at the Battle of Gettysburg.

This much delayed recognition was as a result of the ceaseless efforts of his 94 year old admirer, Margaret Zerwekh, the granddaughter of a fellow Civil War veteran.

Then it occurred to me, if someone even older than I, several generations removed from the recipient, and on top of that, a bird (Standing by for irate PC comments) could summon up the years of fortitude to correct the historical record, then why couldn’t I endeavor to do it on behalf of one of the true legends of what used to be a great business?

ogilvy39_3211Obviously, I am referring to David Ogilvy (above), someone I was lucky enough to meet twice in my somewhat checkered career. Firstly in the sixties after disembarking as a snot nosed git from the Queen Mary, when the great British man of American advertising was gracious enough to grant me thirty minutes of his valuable time; secondly as a freelancer at Ogilvy in the nineties working on IBM.

By this time he was stone deaf and was being wheeled around on a trolley by his minders. Perhaps that’s why I was lucky enough to win the “David Ogilvy Award,” which came with a $10,000 cash prize. After getting totally fucked up in celebration with my reprobate mates, I was informed that as a freelancer, I was not eligible for the cash part of the prize; I was, however awarded five shares of WPP stock by the “Poisoned Dwarf.” Lucky me!

However, I digress; anyone who is familiar with David knows that his overriding ambition in life was to be awarded a knighthood before disappearing beneath the well manicured lawns of Chateau Touffou. And why not? He did sterling work for British tourism, Rolls Royce, Schweppes, Guinness (OK, not quite British) and lots of pro-bono work for British charities in the US.

So, if the Saatchi Bros can end up with a peerage (for Maurice) for services to Thatcher, Frank Lowe can get a Knighthood for services to the Pavilion Roof Terrace at Lords, Martin Sorrel can pull a “Sir” in the 2000 Millennium Year Honors for services to “Odious Little Shits;” and then within a couple of years shift WPP’s corporate offices to Dublin in order to avoid paying UK taxes, you have to wonder, just what the hell is going on?

Kenneth Roman in his splendid book “The King of Madison Avenue” hints that the evil Duke of Edinburgh may have been responsible for this sad state of affairs. Apparently David and “His Dukedom” were on the board of the Wild Wildlife Fund. Both being arrogant buggers, surprisingly, they did not quite see eye-to-eye. So, the Duke had him removed. At least, he didn’t have 007 do a “Diana” on him whilst driving through a tunnel on the way to the Chateau. So, poor old David had to settle for a CBE.

Interesting bit of ephemera here… If you ever watch the movie “Scandal,” the uber-juicy recap of the Profumo affair. Check out the orgy scene (why would you not?) The naked, but masked, cocktail waiter, who’s todger you had to flick with a peacock feather in order to get your booze, was rumored to be… “He who must be obeyed – tunnel-wise.” Apologies to Rumpole for that.

So finally, we get to the end of this diatribe, and, you may perhaps ask yourself, to what fucking end? That’s a good question. So, here’s the answer…

In spite of the fact it has never been done before, if the Yanks can award their highest honor to someone who died one hundred and fifty years ago, why can’t we Brits do it for someone who died a mere fifteen years ago? Someone who didn’t make his mark pimping the Iron Lady, collecting rotting sharks in giant fish tanks, making scenes at posh eateries, moving shit off-shore to avoid taxes, being famous for wearing cricket sweaters, etc.. etc… etc. But was someone who was a symbol for what we should all aspire to be. Not a Mad Man, not, God forbid, a Math Man. But, simply, a wonderful Ad Man.

So, here’s the deal, join me in crowdsourcing … “Make David Ogilvy – Sir David Ogilvy.” This will require you to send humungous contributions to the “George Parker/David Ogilvy” numbered bank account in Zurich. Sign up and the requisite transmission details will follow. I honestly can’t think of anything better you could do with your time and money.

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About George Parker

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George Parker has spent 40 years on Madison Avenue. He’s won Lions, CLIOs, EFFIES, and the David Ogilvy Award. His blog is adscam.typepad.com, which is required reading for those looking for a gnarly view of the world’s second oldest profession.” His latest book, Confessions of a Mad Man, makes the TV show Mad Men look like Sesame Street.

3 comments

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    I’m in!

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    I believe the UK doesn’t award posthumous knighthoods. I remember signing a petition to get Bob Paisley the same treatment.

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    @John…
    I knew that…
    Even if you’ve been buried under a car park for five hundred years, you’re still “Old Crook Back,” when they dig you up. God save Kate Moss!
    Cheers/George “AdScam” Parker