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One day walking down the street I browsed through a box of old books some one had left for the trash.

I am an inveterate book browser especially when it comes to books people throw out. They might not have been of value to those people. That’s unfortunate as well as fortunate because I have found many great books that way.

In with this box of discarded books I saw a copy of David Ogilvy‘s CONFESSIONS OF AN ADVERTISING MAN. As I design the flyers for my programs I work in advertising. I brought the book home. I read it. I quickly re-read it.

I re-read it because just about everything I read was at wild variance with everything people who worked in advertising told me.

For example, I have always felt that people interested in film are interested in more than just the title and the stars. I liked to include copy in my flyers. People who worked in advertising told me not to use copy because most will not read it.

Ogilvy said that while it is true that most won’t read copy the people interested in what we are offering will.

Unlike many who work in the alternate arts I chose not to seek government funding. It was important to me that my work pay its own way. Call me foolish. I feel self reliance to be more important than relying on some one or something else.

Unlike many advertisers I am able to directly gauge the success of my ads. By employing the ideas Ogilvy provided I found my flyers became increasingly more effective.

My problems with what Ogilvy wrote however came about because I knew the context of his illustrations better perhaps that most readers.

For example, Ogilvy wrote that when Aeschines spoke people said, “What a great speaker,” but when Demosthenes spoke Athens marched against Philip. “I’m with Demosthenes,” wrote Ogilvy. The thing is Philip whipped the sorry asses of the Athenians. The first Athenian to flee the field was Demosthenes.

That is because Philip was Macedonian. He wanted nothing more than to be loved by Athens but the Athenians were snobs. They met the fate snobs always meet.

Over the years I have met many “Athenians.” By that I mean I have met many snobs. They give the pretense of knowing which is fine if one is speaking to the uninformed. An informed person quickly discovers how shallow the well is from which they draw.

For example a person who calls them self a Christian complains about the persecution of Christians. It certainly is true that Christians are persecuted. Robin Lane Fox, a non-Christian, writes in his excellent PAGANS AND CHRISTIANS, “Persecution has been an enduring fact of Christian history; ‘it is entirely possible that more Christians died for the faith in the thirty years between 1918 and 1948 than in the first 300 years after the Crucifixion.”

What informed Christians, whose number is far too few it seems, know is that as a Christian we are called to Calvary and the Cross. Persecution goes with the territory.

Another thing Ogilvy states is that we should not sell a product we personally do not believe in. For example, if you are going to sell Maxwell House Coffee you had better believe it is good to the last drop      .

I like my coffee. I pick up my beans in a shop in Kensington Market in Toronto called Sugar And Spice  . I grind my beans BEFORE I make my coffee. I do not buy them pre-ground.

The folks at Sugar And Spice take one month every year to go on vacation. They do this in the winter. I buy extra coffee to keep on hand while they are out of town. Sometimes I forget. Then I have to buy one of the store brands such as Maxwell House, Folgers, Tim Horton’s. The thing is that not one of these brands comes anywhere near approaching my regular coffee.

When I am out around the city posting flyers for my programs people often stop to say hello. One of the most common things I hear is, “You have great coffee.”

I feel sorry for people who because they are advertising it have to drink it. I feel even sorrier they have to become self deceivers to market their product.

Admittedly, they are very good at it.

Sooner or later, however, a Philip is going to come along who will whip their sorry asses.

We can learn a lot from David Ogilvy. I have learned a lot from David Ogilvy.

I have also learned not to drink his coffee.

–Reg Hartt  01/17/2017.

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