In 1978, David Ogilvy wrote, “Great hospitals do two things: They look after patients and they teach young doctors. Ogilvy & Mather does two things: We look after clients and we teach young advertising people. Ogilvy & Mather is the teaching hospital of the advertising world.”
Now, of course, this is not 1978. Far from it. But what David described was the fundamental posture of an agency determined to teach its employees and the industry at large how to create great advertising. (Speaking of posture, David implored his executives to “lean in” during presentations decades before Sheryl Sandberg entered the workforce.) David’s teachings are just as much his legacy as is the agency he founded. His final book, Ogilvy on Advertising, remains a perennial bestseller in the category and the most popular advertising book of all time. It’s also the reason why, nine years ago, I joined this great agency.
David may not have realized it at the time, but Ogilvy & Mather is, and always has been, much more than just a teaching hospital. We have tried, like the truly world-class medical centers, to be a hub of research and innovation. We helped launch the Mad Men-era creative revolution that defined advertising until the turn of the century. And, in 1984, with the first stand-alone digital practice in the industry, we were leaders in the digital revolution that followed. But now we face a new revolution, one that has been discussed ad naseum by agencies and marketers alike. Content, native advertising, custom publishing, or whatever you prefer to call it is remaking marketing all over again. With this latest revolution, it is not enough to lead it on behalf of our clients. Instead, we must ourselves participate in it.
Which is why we’re here today.
The ongoing content revolution brings us back to our roots as the teaching hospital of the advertising world, and for the next 60 days this space will be our seminar room. In the weeks that follow, you’ll hear straight from some of the world’s most iconic brands and some of the leading thinkers in the marketing world. Together we’ll explore how the curated interplay of content and creativity is changing our media landscape, our entertainment choices, our social patterns, our purchasing behaviors, and our shopping options.
And, yes, our relationship to editorial independence and journalism.
This is sponsored content. To be clear, Ogilvy & Mather has paid Fast Company for this space on Co.Create. Fast Company is not controlling this content, and we don’t want any confusion on that point.
However, this is not sponsored content as you’ve seen it before. Ogilvy & Mather partnered with Fast Company to create a channel where we can look more deeply at the issues and ideas already explored on this website and in its print companion. When you hear from our clients, it isn’t going to be to sell you their products. Instead, they will examine how content and Pervasive Creativity have changed and propelled their communications. Will the extra exposure benefit their sales or their corporate priorities? Of course, just as it will for Ogilvy & Mather.
But we believe that the fundamental lesson of the post-digital world is that readers, viewers, consumers, conversationalists–all of us together, in other words–get to make their own decisions on which voices to listen to and which to ignore, what is worth our time and what wastes it.
Brands are among the most powerful forces in our world. How they communicate with all of us has a massive impact on our daily experiences, and we believe that emerging content revolution will change things for the better.
Perhaps we are wrong. The relationship of sponsors to journalism and entertainment has always been a little fraught, and the rise of branded content in editorial outlets has given rise to a lively debate. We’ve seen both missteps and genius. Here, we hope to tilt closer to the latter as we present what we believe to be the great brand content and showcase the positive and meaningful impact it can have on our culture.
Robust debate is a critical part of exploring and transmitting new ideas. It was central to the corporate culture David Ogilvy created at Ogilvy & Mather. How we, as a society, feel about this new world of content isn’t settled yet. So, starting next week, let’s talk. And, friends, watch this space.
Lauren Crampsie is Worldwide Chief Marketing Officer of Ogilvy & Mather.
[Red Lights Image: Ru Bai Le via Shutterstock]