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Ogilvy on conversational marketing

September 12, 2007

While there were many good presentations and conversations at FMCM today, for me none matched Steve Hayden, Vice Chair, Ogilvy Worldwide, who opened his keynote with a movie clip from The Hucksters, a 1947 Clark Gable movie, to illustrate what advertising used to be. It was a scene of an ad exec — who looked more like a Southern plantation owner stereotype than a slick marketing stereotype — reminding his would-be client (Gable) that successful advertising is about repetition and annoyance. Repetition and annoyance. Repetition and annoyance.

Repetition and annoyance.

Then he put up the title slide for his presentation: “Marketing in the post-apocalyptic, converged, fragmented, and blogrific world.” I may be missing a word; he flipped to the next slide quickly.

According to Hayden, while the rule of thumb is that money follows eyeballs, there’s a 19% gap in media spend and consumer behavior. Consumers have moved online, but advertisers aren’t there yet.

Next slide: “Mind the gap”

I think he then next talked about the influence of the blogosphere by showing Matthew Hurst’s diagram. (Hayden’s awesome description of the blogosphere: the blogosphere is savage, violent, and vast.)

He then showed some videos by Peter Hirshberg on Blogging, Big Media and the Shoe Shine Man. If the Shoe Shine guy gets it, shouldn’t everyone?

Okay, then he talked about some other things (, the iPhone price reduction debacle, word of mouth marketing, suggested that companies should start hiring Chief Listening Officers, said Sun was an example of a company doing a good job of listening to their customers…), but what interested me most was his discussion of ideas versus ideals.

All PR and ad firms have a philosophy. “Obliquity,” which Hayden defined to mean you make more when you mean more, seems to be Ogilvy’s.

ideas = share of mind
ideals = share of culture

The exercise they do is to fill in the blanks on this sentence: “NAME believes the world would be a better place if_______”

Some examples he cited are:

Apple: “if people had tools to unleash their potential”
Coke: “if we saw the glass as half full, not half empty”
J&J: “if people took care of each other”
Dove: “if women were allowed to feel good about themselves.”

And then a humorous example:
Lynx (makers of a deodorant that is marketed to 14-year-old boys): “if men could have sex, very, very easily.”

What big ideals teach us:

  1. Do unto others as if you were the others
  2. Play nice and share (the example he cited: when working with other agencies, as they often have to do these days, they get into a room with the other agencies and “tear up their business cards” because they have to put their egos and companies aside to focus on the ideal)
  3. Focus on making a difference

A big ideal can keep your long tail from falling off. A big ideal gives you the prefect entry point into the conversation.

He’s exactly right. Marketers cannot hide behind hype or “stay on message” anymore and hope that that alone will sell product. That was Huckster marketing. Today, it’s about the conversation. If the company is focused on an ideal that is bigger than themselves, their message will be amplified by consumers.

And that’s a huge shift.

Later that day, Carla Hendra, Co-CEO, Ogilvy North America, did a presentation about the Dove campaign for real beauty to illustrate this concept, and I think it hooked everyone in the room. The evolution video was just fascinating.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 13, 2007 1:53 am

    “Play nice and share” – Really important in my opinion, even when it comes to B2B companies. Sharing the business isn’t that bad anymore, it can increases the quality of work produced.

  2. September 13, 2007 1:16 pm

    I bagsy all the women in the Lynx commercials as my future wives. :p (and I’m 35!)

    Do competitors really still see each other as competitors? In the Confluence omniverse, all our competitors are great friends and we regularly share code to save each other from wasting time duplicating the same code, etc. We send each other work (all of our competitors are also our customers and/or suppliers) and generally help each other out wherever possible.

    I guess marketing types are still very “old school” in their thinking? Or maybe it’s just that our company culture and structure is identical to that of a wiki community – staff and clients alike “edit” the company on a continual basis to add new stuff, fix wrong stuff, discuss new ideas and so on…

  3. September 13, 2007 7:32 pm

    The 800 lb gorilla corporations remain conservative — many still have share holders to report to. The open source or transparent way of thinking has not bubbled up through the ranks, it’s going to take a while. I think those of us working in more transparent industries or companies are still in an echo chamber. The Conversational Marketing summit was there to address the changes taking place. In some ways, I think we’re just seconds after the Big Bang and the universe is expanding rapidly.

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