Ogilvy & Mather

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Ogilvy & Mather
Industry Advertising, Marketing, Public Relations
Founded 1948
Founder David Ogilvy
Headquarters 636 Eleventh Avenue,
New York, New York, 10036
United States
Key people
John Seifert, Chief Executive Officer
Tham Khai Meng, Worldwide Chief Creative Officer
Subsidiaries Ogilvy & Mather Advertising
Ogilvy CommonHealth
Ogilvy Public Relations
Geometry Global
Website www.ogilvy.com

Ogilvy & Mather is a marketing company. It is one of the largest such companies in the world, having been founded via a partnership of two British advertising firms: Mather & Crowther and S.H. Benson. In 1948, David Ogilvy opened the first Hewitt, Ogilvy, Benson, & Mather shop in the United States. In 1953, founding partner Anderson Hewitt left the company, and in 1964, Ogilvy, Benson & Mather partnered with Mather & Crowther and renamed itself Ogilvy & Mather.



The agency that would become Ogilvy & Mather got its start in London in 1850 when Edmund Charles Mather began an advertising agency on Fleet Street, the traditional location and current metonym of the British newspaper industry.[1] After Edmund's death in 1886, his son, Harley Lawrence Mather, partnered with Herbert Oakes Crowther and the agency became known as Mather & Crowther.[2] The agency pioneered newspaper advertising, which was in its infancy due to a loosening of tax restrictions. Mather & Crowther educated manufacturers about the efficacy of advertising and also produced "how-to" manuals for the nascent advertising industry.[2] The company grew in prominence in the 1920s after creating leading non-branded advertising campaigns such as "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" and "Drinka Pinta Milka Day".[2][3]

In 1921, Mather & Crowther hired Francis Ogilvy as a copywriter. Ogilvy eventually became the first non-family member to chair the agency. When the agency launched the Aga cooker, a Swedish cook stove, Francis composed letters in Greek to appeal to British public schools, the appliance's best sales leads. Francis also helped his younger brother, David Ogilvy, secure a position as an Aga salesman.[4] The younger Ogilvy was so successful at selling the cooker, he wrote a sales manual for the company in 1935 called “The Theory and Practice of Selling the Aga Cooker”. It was later called “probably the best sales manual ever written" by Fortune magazine.[5]

David Ogilvy sent the manual to Francis who was persuaded to hire him as a trainee. Ogilvy began studying advertising, particularly campaigns from America, which he viewed as the gold standard.[6] In 1938, David Ogilvy convinced Francis to send him to the United States on sabbatical to study American advertising.[7] After a year, Ogilvy presented 32 "basic rules of good advertising" to Mather & Crowther.[8] Over the next ten years, Ogilvy worked in research at the Gallup polling company, worked for British Intelligence during World War II, then spent a few years farming among the Amish community in Pennsylvania.[7]

In 1948, David Ogilvy proposed that Mather & Crowther and another U.K. agency, S.H. Benson, partner to create an American advertising agency in New York to support British advertising clients. The agencies each invested US$40,000 in the venture, but insisted Ogilvy find a more experienced American to run it. David Ogilvy recruited Anderson Hewitt from J. Walter Thompson to serve as president and run sales. Ogilvy would serve as secretary, treasurer, and research director. Along with their British sponsors, which held controlling interest, Hewitt mortgaged his house and invested $14,000 in the agency and Ogilvy invested $6,000.[9][10]

Hewitt, Ogilvy, Benson & Mather[edit]

On September 23, 1948, David Ogilvy opened his U.S. shop as Hewitt, Ogilvy, Benson, & Mather on Madison Avenue in Manhattan.[11] Initially, Mather & Crowther and S.H. Benson gave the agency four clients that were relatively unknown in the U.S. and had small budgets, including Wedgwood China, British South African Airways, Guinness, and Bovril.[12]

The agency's first account was securing magazine advertising space for Wedgwood.[10] It had its first successful ad with Ogilvy's concept "The Guinness Guide to Oysters", which was followed by several other similar food and Guinness pairing guides.[13] Hewitt, Ogilvy, Benson, & Mather's first large client was Sunoco (then called Sun Oil), procured by Hewitt in February 1949.[11] Helena Rubinstein cosmetics was the first client won by Ogilvy.[14]

A breakthrough came after the agency was approached by Maine-based shirt manufacturer C. F. Hathaway Company. The company only had a small budget, but its president promised to "never change a word of copy."[15] In 1951, Hewitt, Ogilvy, Benson, & Mather introduced the "The man in the Hathaway shirt" campaign. The advertisement featured an aristocratic man in an eyepatch that Ogilvy purchased on the way to the ad's photo shoot. C. F. Hathaway Company sold out of shirts within a week of the first ad's printing. The campaign increased the shirt maker's sales by 160 percent, resulted in new business for Hewitt, Ogilvy, Benson, & Mather, and turned the recognizable "Hathaway Man" and his eyepatch into a popular cultural trope.[7][16]

In 1952, the agency launched a campaign for Schweppes using the beverage maker's U.S. president, Edward Whitehead, as company spokesman "Commander Whitehead".[10][17] The campaign increased sales by 600 percent in six months and grew from a single ad to a TV campaign that lasted through the 1960s.[17] That same year, Hewitt, Ogilvy, Benson, & Mather produced the "Come to Britain" campaign for the British Tourist Authority, which led to Britain rising from the fifth to first American tourist destination.[13]

Ogilvy, Benson & Mather[edit]

Disagreements between Hewitt and Ogilvy, particularly about creative direction and who should run the agency, resulted in Ogilvy's resignation in 1953.[11] The agency's backers supported Ogilvy, leading to Hewitt's resignation and the agency reopening as Ogilvy, Benson & Mather in 1954. Ogilvy hired retired Benton & Bowles executive Esty Stowell in 1956 to handle operations and non-creative functions.[18]

During the 1950s, Ogilvy, Benson & Mather became known for its successful campaigns, which David Ogilvy called "Big ideas". The agency, mainly through Ogilvy's creative direction, built a reputation for "quality" advertising, which was defined by its use of well-researched "long copy", large photographs, and clean layouts and typography. Ogilvy believed advertising's purpose was to sell through information and persuasion, as opposed to entertain.[7][19]

In 1955, Ogilvy created the Dove campaign "Dove is one-quarter cleansing cream–It creams your skin while you wash" after learning one of the bar's ingredients was also used in cold cream.[20] In 1956, the agency invented "Titus Moody" for Pepperidge Farm, a character which appeared in their commercials until the 1980s.[7][21] Ogilvy also helped change the perception of Puerto Rico and increase tourism through campaigns in the 1950s.[7][10]

Ogilvy produced one of the agency's most iconic ads for car manufacturer Rolls-Royce in 1960 with the headline "At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock."[7] Ogilvy borrowed the headline from an old article he came across while researching the company. The rest of the copy included 11 engineering advantages of the vehicle. After it was printed, the ad was praised by other advertisers, and Ogilvy considered it his favorite.[18][22]

That same year, the agency nearly doubled in size and brought on John "Jock" Elliott as an executive after winning the Shell Oil account.[23] The agency agreed to work for Shell on a fee basis, rather than the traditional commission model, and became one of the first major advertising agencies to use the system.[24] The agency produced ads for the company that included the ingredients of its gasoline and explained their benefits.[18][25]

In the early 1960s, David Ogilvy's neighbor, American Express CEO Howard Clark approached him about taking on the account, but Stowell rejected the business as too small. Ogilvy signed American Express while Stowell was on vacation. Other major clients of the 1960s included Sears Roebuck and General Foods.[26]

In 1963, David Ogilvy published Confessions of an Advertising Man, which became an international best-seller and increased Ogilvy's public profile.[10][18]

Ogilvy & Mather[edit]

As a reaction to the growth of international advertising, Ogilvy, Benson & Mather formed an equal partnership with Mather & Crowther in 1964.[18] The two agencies became subsidiaries of a new parent company called Ogilvy & Mather, which was headquartered in New York. In 1965, both changed their names to Ogilvy & Mather and the parent company became known as Ogilvy & Mather International inc.[11] Jock Elliott took over as chairman of U.S. operations from David Ogilvy, who remained chairman of Ogilvy & Mather International and became creative director. As a stipulation of the merger, the company went public on April 27, 1966. It was the first advertising agency to go public on both New York and London Stock Exchange.[18][27][28]

In 1969, Ogilvy & Mather became the first ad agency to work with The Hershey Company, after it began national advertisements.[29] In 1971, the agency launched Merrill Lynch's "Bullish on America" campaign. In 1979, it won business from TWA, the agency’s largest account win in the United States at the time.[13] The agency also launched several popular campaigns for American Express throughout the 1970s, including advertisements with the headline "Do you know me?" featuring famous names with unrecognizable faces and the slogan "Don't leave home without it". The gains American Express made through advertising led to the company becoming the agency's biggest client by the 1980s.[11][30]

During the 1970s, Ogilvy & Mather acquired numerous other agencies, including S.H. Benson, one of its original sponsors, in 1971, Scali, McCabe, Sloves in 1976, and Cone & Weber in 1977.[11] One of the acquisitions, Hodes-Daniel, resulted in the establishment of the agency's direct response service called Ogilvy & Mather Direct in 1976. It was renamed OgilvyOne Worldwide in 1997.[13] The agency's growth through acquisitions was not led by Ogilvy, who feared the differing philosophies of the acquired agencies would undermine Ogilvy & Mather's culture and advertising beliefs, which he called the "True Church".[31][32] After moving permanently to his French castle Château de Touffou in 1973, David Ogilvy stepped down as chairman and became Worldwide Creative Head in 1975. Jock Elliott was named chairman and CEO of Ogilvy & Mather International.[28][33]


The agency opened its public relations division, Ogilvy & Mather Public Relations, in 1980.[34]

Jock Elliott retired as chairman and was succeeded by William Phillips in 1982.[28][35] The next year, Ogilvy & Mather established the Interactive Marketing Group and became the first major agency to establish an interactive capability.[36][37] In December 1983, David Ogilvy retired as Creative Head.[38]

In 1985, Ogilvy & Mather International was renamed as The Ogilvy Group inc. The group included three divisions: Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, a new name for all Ogilvy & Mather offices including Ogilvy & Mather Direct and Ogilvy & Mather Public Relations; Scali McCabe Sloves Group; and several independent associate agencies, such as Cole & Weber. Kenneth Roman, president of Ogilvy & Mather U.S., was named president of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide.[39] He was promoted to chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide in 1987 and became chairman of Ogilvy Group in 1988, succeeding Phillips.[35]

In 1989, WPP plc, a British advertising holding company, acquired Ogilvy Group for $864 million, which, at the time, was the most ever paid for an advertising agency. David Ogilvy initially resisted the sale, but eventually accepted the title of WPP honorary chairman, a position he relinquished in 1992.[40][41]

Following the departure of Roman for American Express in 1989, Graham Phillips became the chairman and CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide.[42]


In 1992, Charlotte Beers replaced Graham Phillips as chairman and CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide. Philips remained vice chairman. Beers was recruited from agency Tatham, Laird & Kudner and was the first "outsider" to lead the agency.[43] She was also the first woman to lead a major international agency.[44] Beers introduced the concept of "brand stewardship" to the agency, a philosophy of brand-building over time.[45] She is also credited with helping Ogilvy & Mather bring in new business after a downturn.[44]

In 1994, then-North America president Shelly Lazarus and Beers helped win the entire global account of technology corporation IBM for the agency.[45] Worth an estimated $500 million in billings, it was the largest account shift in the history of advertising.[44]

After four years, Beers stepped down as CEO.[44] Lazarus, a 23-year veteran of the agency, was appointed CEO in 1996 and became chairman the next year.[45] It was the first time a woman succeeded another woman at a major agency.[44] Lazarus further developed Beer's brand stewardship approach by introducing "360 degree branding", the idea of communicating a brand message at every touchpoint the brand has with people.[45][46]

David Ogilvy died at age 88, at his home in Touffou, in July 1999.[7]

2000s to present[edit]

In 2004, Ogilvy & Mather launched Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty, a long-running series of videos, advertisements, and other marketing initiatives focused on "redefining beauty".[47]

In 2005, Shona Seifert and Thomas Early, two former directors of Ogilvy & Mather, were convicted of one count of conspiring to defraud the government and nine counts of filing false claims for Ogilvy over-billing advertising work done for the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy account. The agency was hired by the ONDCP in 1998 to create anti-drug ads aimed at adolescents.[48] At the time, it was the largest social marketing contract in history.[49] Ogilvy & Mather repaid $1.8 million to the government to settle a civil suit based on the same billing issues.[50][51][52]

Miles Young became Worldwide CEO in January 2009 after leading the company's Asia-Pacific division for 13 years. Lazarus remained chairman until 2012, when Young succeeded her.[53] Under Young's leadership, the agency focused on a "Twin Peaks" strategy of producing advertisements that are equally creative and effective.[54] New business was also Young's priority. The agency secured new global accounts with companies including UPS, Philips, S.C. Johnson, and IHG.[55][56]

In 2010, the agency established OgilvyRED, a specialty strategic consultancy.[55] In June 2013, OgilvyAction, the agency's activation unit, merged with other WPP-owned properties G2 Worldwide and JWTAction to form Geometry Global, an activation network that operates in 56 markets.[57] Ogilvy's production division, RedWorks Worldwide, merged with production company Hogarth Worldwide forming Hogarth & Ogilvy in March 2015 to serve the production needs of all of WPP's agencies.[58]

The agency was named both the Cannes Lions "Network of the Year" and CLIO “Network of the Year” for four consecutive years, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.[59][60] It was also named Effies "World’s most Effective Agency Network" in both 2012 and 2013.[55][61]

Ogilvy Public Relations in China faced accusations in the media of overworking a 24-year-old employee who died of a heart attack while in the office in May 2013. The claims were not confirmed.[62]

In June 2015, Young announced he would retire as both Worldwide Chairman and CEO to take the position of Warden at his alma mater, New College at Oxford University.[53] In January 2016, John Seifert was named CEO of the agency.[63]


Subsidiary, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide (OPR) is a global public relations agency with specialties in consumer marketing, corporate, healthcare, technology, social Marketing, public affairs and 360 degree digital influence. OPR operates 69 offices in locations throughout the world.[64]

Ogilvy Public Relations has its own wholly owned subsidiaries: Mind Resource was acquired in 2011 Hong Kong-based healthcare communications firm Mind Resource Healthcare Consulting Limited.[citation needed] Feinstein Kean Healthcare established in 1987, the firm employs a variety of specialists, including business and brand strategists, marketers, policy and advocacy experts, digital and social media influencers, science writers and editors, communication planners and creative professionals.[citation needed] In 2005, Ogilvy PR acquired all-Republican lobbying firm The Federalist Group LLC.[65] The company subsequently became bipartisan,[66] and its name was changed to Ogilvy Government Relations.[citation needed] In 2010 Ogilvy Government Relations became a wholly owned subsidiary of Ogilvy & Mather. OGR had a total lobbying income of over $21 million in 2009.[citation needed] OGR was named a Top 10 financial services lobbying firm in the 2010 regulatory reform debate.[67]

The OgilvyCulture division was formed in late 2010 and early 2011 to market products across different cultures.[68] Social@Ogilvy and Ogilvy Youth divisions were started in 2012 to provide social media and youth marketing services, respectively.[69]

Subsidiary Ogilvy Public Relations (OPR) is a global public relations agency with its own wholly owned subsidiaries:

  • Mind Resource: Acquired in 2011 Hong Kong-based healthcare communications firm Mind Resource Healthcare Consulting Limited. Founded in 2007, Mind Resource is a healthcare communications firm.[citation needed]
  • Feinstein Kean Healthcare: Established in 1987, Feinstein Kean Healthcare

A former subsidiary, Dudley-Anderson-Yutzy, was acquired by the company in 1983 and folded into the OPR practice in 1988.

Major work[edit]

Early ads[edit]

One of Ogilvy & Mather's first accounts was Guinness, which tasked the agency with introducing the beer to an American audience. In 1950, "The Guinness Guide to Oysters" appeared as a magazine advertisement that outlined nine kinds of oysters and their characteristics. The advertisement was successful, and several other pairing guides, including birds and cheeses, followed it.[13][70]

In 1951, "The Man in the Hathaway Shirt", an advertisement created for C. F. Hathaway Company, was first published in the The New Yorker. It immediately increased sales for the company and more ads followed. Each featured George Wrangel, a middle-aged man with a mustache and an eye patch. The eye patch was a prop found by David Ogilvy to give the ad what he called "story appeal". Ambassador Lewis Douglas, who wore an eye patch, inspired the concept. The Hathaway man's eye patch has since been referred to in popular culture and other advertisements.[16][71]

To familiarize Americans with Schweppes, the agency created a spokesman named Commander Whitehead. Edward Whitehead, who was the company's president, was introduced as the Commander in a 1952 advertisement, which showed him arriving in New York with a briefcase labeled as the secrets of Schweppes.[17] The campaign resulted in Schweppes becoming the standard tonic used in the country. The campaign continued into the 1960s.[11]

In the 1950s, Ogilvy was hired to increase business in Puerto Rico. The agency created a coupon for businesses that laid out tax advantages of establishing a presence on the island. Approximately 14,000 businesses mailed in the coupon and the territory's foreign industry increased.[72] Following this, David Ogilvy helped Puerto Rico's governor establish and advertise the Casals Festival of Music.[73] The agency created ads using visually captivating images to position the island as a paradise.[74]

In 1952, Ogilvy & Mather launched a campaign to increase tourism for the British Tourist Authority. The "Come to Britain" campaign replaced drawings with photographs of the picturesque countryside. The advertisements resulted in the tripling of tourism to the UK.[13][30]

After the agency was assigned the Rolls Royce account in 1959,[7] David Ogilvy spent three weeks meeting with engineers and researching the car.[75] The resulting advertisement featured the headline "At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls Royce comes from the electric clock", which Ogilvy took (and credited) from a journalist's review.[11] The rest of the copy outlined 11 of the car's distinguishing features and benefits.[18] The advertisement became one of Ogilvy's most famous.[5][7] Ogilvy joked that the ad "sold so many cars we dare not run it again."[75]

American Express[edit]

American Express has been an Ogilvy & Mather client since the 1960s.[26] The agency launched the company's "Do You Know Me" campaign in 1974, which focused on the prestige of carrying an American Express card. Each advertisement described the accomplishments of semi-recognizable celebrities who used the card. Their identities were revealed at the end. The campaign emphasized that even if even if a person was not immediately recognizable, their American Express credit card would be. The campaign ran until 1987.[76][77]

A campaign called "Portraits" followed "Do You Know Me". "Portraits" showed card-carrying personalities like Tip O'Neil and Ella Fitzgerald in leisure activities.[77] The campaign was photographed by Annie Leibovitz and named "Print Campaign of the Decade" by Advertising Age in 1990.[13][78]

Ogilvy & Mather launched the slogan "My Life. My Card." in 2004 with ads featuring celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres and Tiger Woods.[79] In 2008, American Express won a trademark claim that the company had taken the slogan from a consultant.[80]

Merrill Lynch[edit]

Ogilvy & Mather won Merrill Lynch's print and television advertising business in the late 1960s. In 1971, the agency suggested using a bull as symbol of the company. The visual became the company's logo. The campaign "Bullish on America" debuted in a TV spot during the 1971 World Series, and print ads in 25 magazines followed. Within eight weeks, the perception of Merrill Lynch as the best investment firm among upper-class men went from 19% to 28%.[81]


Ogilvy & Mather replaced multiple agencies to become IBM's sole agency for all of the company's marketing and branding efforts in 1994. The worldwide campaign "Solutions for a Small Planet" was launched to help rebrand the company.[82]

Ogilvy began creating advertisements under the campaign "Smarter Planet" in 2008. The ads showcased world issues like energy, traffic, food, infrastructure, retail, and banking, and described how IBM was contributing to their improvement.[83] The campaign won a Global Gold Effie in 2010.[84] The second phase of the campaign called "Made with IBM" began in 2014 and showcased work other companies have created using IBM technology.[85]

Incredible India[edit]

Ogilvy & Mather India created the slogan "Incredible India" for the country's Ministry of Tourism in 2002. The campaign targeted an international audience and aimed to boost tourism. The initial advertisements highlighted the breadth of Indian culture and resulted in an increase of two-to-three million tourists per year.[86] As of 2015, the slogan is still in use.[87]


Dove became an Ogilvy & Mather client in the 1950s, and the agency developed the brand's "1/4 cleaning cream" messaging.[20] In 2004, the agency launched the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, a marketing campaign that focused on redefining society's pre-set definitions of "beauty". As of 2015, the campaign is still being used and was ranked first on Advertising Age’s list of "Top Ad Campaigns of the 21st Century" in 2015.[88]

The campaign has featured multiple advertisements, workshops, and events. Among the most notable have been a 75-second spot called Evolution and a short film called Sketches.[88] Evolution was a viral video released in 2006 by Ogilvy, Toronto that used time-lapse to show the process of photo manipulation through make-up, lighting, and Adobe Photoshop. The video won a Grand Prix in both the cyber and film categories at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in 2007.[89] In Sketches, released in 2013, a sketch artist draws women based on self-descriptions and descriptions from other women to compare their distorted views of themselves with how others view them. The film earned over 114 million views online and Business Insider noted it as the most viral ad of all time in 2013.[90]

Controversial ads[edit]

An online video created by Ogilvy & Mather U.K. as viral marketing for the Ford SportKa hatchback spread by email in 2004, despite being rejected by Ford. The 40-second video, which showed a lifelike computer-generated cat being decapitated by the car's sunroof, led to criticisms from bloggers and animal rights groups. Both companies apologized for its release and launched investigations into how the video was leaked.[91][92]

In 2014, Ogilvy India created "Bounce Back", a campaign for Indian mattress company Kurl-On that illustrated the stories of well-known figures who "bounced back" from adversity. The low point of each narrative arc showed the person rebounding off of a Kurl-On mattress. One of the ads featured Malala Yousafzai and depicted her being shot. The ad was criticized in the media and Ogilvy & Mather issued a public apology to Yousafzai and her family.[93][94] Also in 2014, Ogilvy & Mather apologized following complaints about the racial implications of an advertisement it created for a South African charity Feed a Child. The advertisement portrayed a black boy being fed like a dog by a white woman.[95]

See also[edit]


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