6 influential names in advertising history
Every field has its stars, from science to arts and from fashion to manufacturing. The biggest names in advertising are yet more fascinating because being successful in this domain requires creativity and a spark of genius in order to be able to influence masses. The lives of advertisers from the past are just as fascinating as the stories of people who are big right now if not more. We like to read their quotes for inspiration and we know they are part of an advertising era that will never come back. Check this list whether you are new to the game of advertising or on the opposite, you are a veteran looking to remember some inspirational people in the industry.
William “Bill” Bernach was born in 1911 and is one of the earliest advertising creative directors. If the name DDB sounds familiar to you, you should know that Bernach was one of the three founders of the international advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernach in 1949. His legacy includes the structure of the creative team which is used by agencies even today. Bill Bernach was representative of one of the two schools of thought emerging in advertising in the 50s and 60s – one, led by David Ogilvy and Rosser Reeves, was based on determining a unique brand position, while the other was focused on creativity to attract attention, and this is what Bernach preached.
Quote: “The most powerful element in advertising is the truth.”
David Ogilvy (1911-1999) was surnamed “The Father of Advertising” and founded Ogilvy & Mather. Although he sustained the school of thought focusing on a unique brand position and seeing advertising as a science, his work rarely reflected this. Ogilvy’s advertising philosophy followed four main principles: creative brilliance, research, actual results for clients (creativity does not necessarily sell), and professional discipline (he organized training programs for young advertising professionals). The books of the famous British advertiser are considered a must-read for anyone who is interested in entering the advertising business.
Quote: “The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.”
Leo Burnett (1891 – 1971)is known for creating some of the most famous and recognizable advertising characters and campaigns in the 20th century, including the Marlboro Man, Charlie the Tuna, and Tony the Tiger. His clients included Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, and Hallmark, and Time Magazine called Burnett one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. His first contact with advertising was in his father’s dry goods store, where Noble Burnett would design ads for the business. Leo Burnett studied journalism at the University of Michigan. In 1935 he founded the Leo Burnett Company, Inc., in downtown Chicago. Today, the agency has more than 9,000 employees in over 85 offices all over the world.
Quote: “Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.”
If you know the protagonist in the Mad Men series, you should know that Don Draper is based on Rosser Reeves and his professional accomplishments. Rosser Reeves (1910 – 1984) considered that the purpose of advertising is to sell and he was the one to develop the concept of unique selling proposition. He considered that humour and cleverness did matter, but they were nothing without identifying and using a unique brand position. Some of the slogans that Rosser Reeves developed based on his philosophy are still used today, such as M&M’s “melts in your mouth, not in your hand”. Moreover, he considered advertising had to be honest and that inferior goods could not become successful no matter how much advertising you pushed at audiences. He also created Dwight Eisenhower’s presidential ads for the 1952 election.
Quote: “No, sir, I’m not saying that charming, witty and warm copy won’t sell. I’m just saying I’ve seen thousands of charming, witty campaigns that didn’t sell.”
The Saatchi brothers
Maurice and Charles Saatchi were two Iraqi-British businessmen who founded together the Saatchi and Saatchi advertising agency. In 1995, the two brothers founded a new company, M&C Saatchi, after a shareholder revolt eliminated them from their original company. Some of their best-known advertising campaigns is “Labour isn’t working” for the Conservative Party for the 1979 British general election and the ads for the Silk Cut cigarette brand. Before being ousted from Saatchi and Saatchi in 1994 for lavish spending, the two brothers created a huge marketing conglomerate that spread to the US and had a major impact on the advertising landscape across the Atlantic.
Quotes: “My aim in life isn’t so much the pursuit of happiness as the happiness of pursuit.” (Charles Saatchi)
“Simplicity is the outcome of technical subtlety. It is the goal, not the starting point.” (Maurice Saatchi)
Have these titans of advertising influenced your work, if you are in the advertising industry? What other names would you include on this list?