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20 Timeless Lessons from the Greatest Men in Advertising

Having a great service or product to sell is only one of the many steps to business success. How you’ll sell your product is that one important step that will reel in the sales.

Regardless of your years in the business industry, you will always need to learn more to achieve your business goals and success. Whatever your business is, whether you have an e-commerce or physical store, you need to learn about marketing and advertising to be able to sell your products and services. With that, here are timeless lessons from the greatest men in advertising:

David Ogilvy

Founder, Ogilvy & Mather

David Ogilvy

Dubbed as the “Father of Advertising,” David Ogilvy sure has plenty to share and teach marketers about creating persuading, influential, and memorable advertising campaigns and branding. Even years after his death in 1999, Ogilvy remains as one of the most popular names in advertising.

“There isn’t any significant difference between the various brands of whiskey, or cigarettes or beer. They are all about the same. And so are the cake mixes and the detergents, and the margarines… The manufacturer who dedicates his advertising to building the most sharply defined personality for his brand will get the largest share of the market at the highest profit.”

“The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.”

“If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think. We try to write in the vernacular.”

Jordan Zimmerman

Founder, Zimmerman Advertising, Inc.

Jordan Zimmerman

Known as the “Advertising’s Bad Boy,” Jordan Zimmerman of Zimmerman Advertising leads the now 14th largest advertising agency in the world. His firm’s growing list of catered great brands includes Nissan, Atlantis, Dunkin’ Donuts, Papa John’s, Jamba Juice, Michaels, Soma, and more.

“We have the greatest and proprietary technology to monetize social media for all of our clients.”

“Brands that aren’t evolving are going backwards – especially retailers. Every brand has to continue to evolve to become a better brand, to become a more contemporary brand for today.”

Leo Burnett

Founder, Leo Burnett Worldwide

Leo Burnett

Leo Burnett, the man behind advertising icons like the Marlboro Man, Tony the Tiger, Jolly Green Giant, and Tony the Tiger, ushered the creative revolution in advertising in the 1950s. He is known for creating simple yet memorable icons for products and brands instead of copy-heavy ads.

“The secret of all effective advertising is not the creation of new and tricky words and pictures, but one of putting familiar words and pictures into new relationships.”

“Regardless of the moral issue, dishonesty in advertising has proved very unprofitable.”

“The sole purpose of business is service. The sole purpose of advertising is explaining the service which business renders.


Raymond Rubicam

Co-Founder, Young & Rubicam / Y&R

Raymond Rubicam

Raymond Rubicam, one of the twentieth century’s advertising giants, co-established Young & Rubicam (Y&R) with John Orr Young in 1923. His experiences on being a shipping clerk helper, freelance newspaper writer, and Armstrong copywriter all contributed to his marketing expertise.

“Mirror the reader to himself and then show him afterward how your product fits his needs.”

“Let the best idea win, no matter who has it. No one can have the good ideas himself. Having an ear for a good idea is almost as valuable as having the idea.”

Bill Bernbach

Co-Founder, DDB Worldwide

Bill Bernbach

William “Bill” Bernbach, along with his two co-founders, opened Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB Worldwide) in 1949. He is recognized as one of the great men of advertising, notable for his works for Volkswagen Beetle (Think Small), Polaroid (It’s So Simple), Avis (We Try Harder), and more.

“Getting your product known isn’t the answer. Getting it wanted is the answer.”

“Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make.”

Lester Wunderman

Founder, Wunderman

Lester Wunderman

Living his title as the “Godfather of Direct Marketing,” Lester Wunderman served as a pioneer in advertising for over 50 years. Besides founding the world’s largest direct marketing agency, he is also notable for his innovations including loyalty rewards programs, the 1-800 number, and more.

“The real objective of direct marketing is to convert sales to relationships, because relationships bond the customer to the company and the brand is the total of all that.”

“Always try to turn a marketing disaster into a marketing opportunity.”

“What matters today are the digital conversations with and among consumers.”

Dan Wieden

Co-Founder, Wieden+Kennedy

Dan Wieden

Dan Wieden, an American advertising executive, co-founded Wieden+Kennedy with David Kennedy in 1982. Their independently owned American advertising agency is well known for their notable work for the Nike brand. It’s Weiden who coined the now popular Nike tagline ‘Just Do It.’

“Chaos is the only thing that honestly wants you to grow. The only friend who really helps you be creative.”

“We need to get to kids who have no idea what we do. We need to open the doors wide and let them in. There are many undiscovered voices out there – voices that, against all odds, can rise up and enrich this culture and perhaps change the very nature of the marketplace for the better.”

David Droga

Founder, Droga5

David Droga

At age 48, David Droga’s advertising agency, Droga5 which started in 2006, has already been named “Agency of the Year” 11 times. To date, Droga has received prestigious recognitions and awards from Cannes Lions, New York Art Directors Club, Bravery Awards, Adweek, and more.

“It takes the same amount of energy to do great as it does to justify average.”

“We are not here to be artists. We (advertisers) are the marriage between art and commerce.”

“Just because you can do something, it doesn’t mean you need to – restraint is something I admire. At the end of the day, it is still a battle between good vs. crap.”

Learn a thing or two from these great men to jumpstart the success of your business’s marketing and advertising campaigns.

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