Reminiscences of David Ogilvy
Ogilvy said, “Oh dear, we must pay cash—have you got any money?”
So I paid the bill.
On another occasion he bought me dinner. He asked if I was having a starter. I got the strong impression he thought this needless extravagance. When I said, “Yes,” he said, “Well, hurry up then.”
People have told me he was very careful with his expenses. Ogilvy and Mather paid, not David.
3. He had no false modesty
I once asked him if he would come and talk at a conference for all our creative directors.
“What would you like me to talk about?” he asked.
“We all know about your triumphs. Could you talk about what you got wrong?”
He began: “Drayton asked me to talk about my mistakes. We have an hour. It will take me three and half minutes to cover the mistakes. The rest of the time I will talk about what I got right.”
His greatest mistake, he thought, was going public. “Once you do that, you lose control of your business.”
He was proud that he had brought in the agency’s five biggest clients.
“I made their bed. They lie on it.”
4. He could be unforgivably rude
When in India, I was taken to a very good restaurant in New Delhi. My hosts told me that when David was there they brought out the chef to meet him—partly because David had been a chef when young.
The chef asked him what he wanted.
“Cornflakes,” was the reply.
He pulled this trick regularly. Ken Roman, his biographer, thought it a way of drawing attention to himself.
5. He was well-read, cultured, never stopped learning
In the chateau, one room was lined with books. I was childishly proud when a friend told me recently that one of my books is now prominently displayed there. I recall asking David whether he had read them all. He said he had.