David Ogilvy, the ad executive who dreamed up the eye-patch wearing ''man in the Hathaway shirt'' and many other iconic advertising campaigns, died yesterday at Chateau Touffou, his home near Bonnes in the Loire Valley of France, after a year of declining health, according to a spokeswoman for Ogilvy & Mather. He was 88.
In a career that spanned five decades, Mr. Ogilvy created one of the biggest ad agencies in the world and helped alter the landscape of American advertising. And while it would be impossible to gauge the impact his campaigns had on sales, his work created many images that are well-known in households worldwide.
He is credited, along with William Bernbach, with introducing what was then a novel idea: that consumers could be considered as intelligent as, say, advertising people, and approached with a soft sell through print, radio and television.
His ads, for everything from Schweppes to Rolls-Royce, helped start the creative revolution of the 1960's. The ads were in marked contrast to the droning, repetitious style of those they supplanted.
''The consumer is not a moron,'' Mr. Ogilvy said once, and repeated often. ''She is your wife. Try not to insult her intelligence.''Continue reading the main story
In 1935, he wrote his first advertisement, for a stove; by 1948 he had formed Ogilvy & Mather, now an international empire with global billings of nearly $8 billion last year and a unit of WPP Group P.L.C.
Along the way he took a series of side roads, from salesman to Pennsylvania farmer to diplomat and pollster, before advertising captured his undivided attention.
''He had a tremendous impact on the business,'' said Allen Rosenshine, the chairman and chief executive of BBDO Worldwide.
He met Mr. Ogilvy only once but refers to his writings as ''a bible of what constitutes good and bad advertising.''
Mr. Rosenshine added, ''He showed that you can approach the art of creativity with a certain amount of science and right-brain thinking.''
Though Mr. Ogilvy prided himself on perfecting the information-laden but painless print advertisements, he was perhaps even more famous for finding the character or symbol that turned a product into a brand, and a brand into a byword.
To that end, his advertisements featured interesting-looking people and symbols, like the Schweppes board member whose bewhiskered Englishness so entranced Mr. Ogilvy that he persuaded him to appear as Commander Whitehead -- the last name was real -- in ads for Schweppes beverages that summed up the product as having ''Schweppervescence.'' (The model for the original ''man in the Hathaway shirt,'' in 1951, was a Russian baron.)
''You cannot bore people into buying your product,'' Mr. Ogilvy once concluded. ''You can only interest them in buying it.''
He created successful campaigns for Shell Oil, Sunoco, Dove soap and Sears, Roebuck as well as for the Puerto Rico Tourist Board and Merrill Lynch.
For Puerto Rican tourism, his approach was to change the image of the island, selling it as a tropical paradise.
He created the first Pepperidge Farm bread commercial in 1956, a campaign he said he literally dreamed up. In his memoir ''Ogilvy on Advertising,'' he told of a dream in which a baker drove his horse-drawn wagon down a country road. The bread commercial used just that script, creating an image of hand-made tradition for a mass-market bread.
In 1959, his agency won the Rolls-Royce account, for which it produced Mr. Ogilvy's favorite campaign. The headline of the print ads read: ''At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.''
This relatively small effort paved the way for other accounts with major billings, like Shell. He later resigned the Rolls-Royce account at a time when he felt that the quality of the cars, which he liked to drive himself, was not up to speed.
A witty, well-traveled sophisticate, Mr. Ogilvy began his working life in the kitchen of the Hotel Majestic in Paris soon after cutting short his education at Oxford. The kitchen was run by a quick-tempered Monsieur Pitard, who one day dismissed a junior chef whose bread had not risen properly. Mr. Ogilvy would later note that the chef's hard treatment of the subordinate lifted the morale of the other junior chefs, making them feel that they were working in the best kitchen in the world.
A few years later, he was selling the hulking furnace-like Aga English stoves, door to door in England. He left the company in 1935, but not before writing a sales manual for successive generations. His first advertisement, in fact, was for Aga, and featured a reproduction of Manet's ''Dejeuner Sur l'Herbe,'' an interesting choice since the painting includes a nude, possibly the first to appear in an advertisement for a consumer product, he later said.
''It was a mistake,'' he wrote sternly in ''Ogilvy on Advertising,'' the 1983 installment of a series of books in which he set down his thoughts on the industry. ''Not because it was sexy, but because it was irrelevant to the product.''
David MacKenzie Ogilvy was born June 23, 1911, in West Horsley, England, the youngest child of John and Dorothy Ogilvy. His father, a stockbroker, suffered a financial crisis when David was very young, and the boy attended an Edinburgh public school, Fettes, on a scholarship. He also won a scholarship to study modern history at Christ Church College, Oxford, but was, in his own words, a ''dud'' who could not pass his exams there. He left after just two years.
His first advertising job was with the London agency Mather & Crowther, where his older brother, Francis, worked. For David Ogilvy, advertising became a passion that consumed most of his time. ''I loved advertising,'' he wrote. ''I devoured it. I studied and read and took it desperately seriously.'' In 1938, he persuaded the agency to send him to the United States for a year; at the year's end, he resigned and joined George Gallup's National Research Institute, which he later called ''the luckiest break of my life'' because, he said, he learned a great deal about the United States, its people and its preferences, and because he also learned how to do research, on which he placed great reliance in advertising.
During World War II, Mr. Ogilvy served in British intelligence in the United States from 1942 to 1944; in 1944 he became second secretary at the British Embassy.
After the war, he and his wife moved to Lancaster County in Pennsylvania, where many of the farmers were Amish, to try to make a living raising tobacco. Although they loved the region, he wrote later, it was physically and economically impossible for the Ogilvys to succeed. So in 1948, he set up his advertising agency, with, as he recalled, ''no credentials, no clients and only $6,000 in the bank.''
One advantage he did have was a British accent, which -- clued in to advertising's wiles -- he used to ''differentiate me from the ordinary.''
The tweedy, pipe-smoking Mr. Ogilvy wrote the copy for some of his agency's best-remembered ads. It was he who, almost on a whim, stopped and bought the eye patch that was to become identified with the fortunes of a small shirt company named Hathaway. And it was he who wrote the headline for the Rolls-Royce ad, which he insisted was one of the best ads of all time.
Mr. Ogilvy, not someone with a tendency to underestimate himself, wrote of these early successes, ''I doubt whether any copywriter has ever produced so many winners in such a short period.''
He was an early advocate of so-called long copy advertising, meaning advertising that used many words rather than few, and of what he called factual and informative advertising.
For many years he opposed the use of humor in advertisements or commercials and also long held out against singing commercials in the belief that they did not work.
Besides ''Confessions of an Advertising Man'' (1963), which sold more than 600,000 copies in 11 languages, Mr. Ogilvy also wrote a 1978 autobiography, ''Blood, Brain and Beer.''
''Confessions'' was very much a how-to book, although entertaining enough to appeal to an audience outside the advertising industry. It was stuffed with such crisp maxims for success in advertising as: ''Unless your advertising contains a Big Idea, it will pass like a ship in the night'' and ''Advertising should be true, credible and pleasant. People do not buy from bad-mannered liars.''
One chapter promised to explain ''How to Write Potent Copy,'' and began: ''The headline is the most important element in most advertisements.'' Mr. Ogilvy, a lean, handsome man who retained that crucial British accent all his life, was noted for the literacy of his agency's productions, and he was always interested in star power. At one time, he persuaded Eleanor Roosevelt to appear in a television commercial for margarine. He could be completely hardheaded about advertising's ultimate aim: profit.
''When you advertise in local newspapers,'' he wrote in ''Ogilvy on Advertising,'' ''you get better results if you include the name of each city in your headline. People are mostly interested in what is happening where they live.'' (He once spent $1,300 on ads in his neighborhood newspaper to find his own lost dog. It worked.)
In his chapter on making good TV commercials, he wrote: ''Start selling in your first frame and never stop selling until the last.'' And: ''The purpose of a commercial is not to entertain the viewer, but to sell him.''
He also wrote in ''Confessions'' about his relationship with his clients: ''I buy shares in their company, so that I can think like a member of their family.''
And he said: ''I always use my clients' products. This is not toadyism but elementary good manners. I also resign accounts when I lose confidence in the product.''
A lover of the landscape, he had a lifelong and violent aversion to one form of advertising: the billboard. ''Where every prospect pleases,'' he said, ''man is at his vilest when he erects a billboard.''
Mr. Ogilvy was married three times, first to Melinda Street, then to Ann Cabot and finally to Herta Lans, who survives him. He is also survived by his son by his first wife, David Fairfield Ogilvy of Greenwich, Conn., and by three stepgrandsons. No members of his family remain with the agency.
In writing about himself for the agency's house organ in 1980, he confessed that he was ''candid to the point of indiscretion''; that he had a ''low threshold of boredom,'' and that he was too impressed by physical beauty.
He worked for many causes and cultural institutions, including the New York Philharmonic, the World Wildlife Fund, an antilittering campaign in New York City and the United Negro College Fund. In 1967, Mr. Ogilvy was made a Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth, and in 1990 the French Government named him an officer in its Order of Arts and Letters.
Mr. Ogilvy was chief executive of his agency until 1975, when he stepped down and moved to France. He remained active on several boards and as titular head of some Ogilvy operations until recently. In retirement, he worked tirelessly on his gardens; for his 80th birthday the agency presented him with a hybrid rose named David Ogilvy.
In a 1986 interview, when asked what had eluded him in his life, Mr. Ogilvy replied: ''Knighthood. A big family. Ten children.''Continue reading the main story