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Poet challenges mad man to a duel

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There’s a lot of debate between creative writers and data oriented ones.

On one hand, the creative types think that if you can’t extract a brilliant Big Idea for your ad, you’re doomed to failure.

On the other, the data obsessed guys think creativity is for novels. That it doesn’t deserve its place in sales.

My point of view?

Creativity should be the icing on the cake.

But research and data should always be what you base your campaign and messaging on.


Take for example what happened when legendary m(ad) man and copywriter David Ogilvy got challenged to a duel by poet and back then creative director at the agency, Sir Francis Meynell.

Well it wasn’t really a duel, surely didn’t end up with one of the dudes dead.

But it must have been pretty embarrassing.

Apparently Meynell challenged Ogilvy at a debate on the use of research and data in advertising.

It was then that big Og, threw all his cards on the table.

From his biography “The King of Madison Avenue”:

“Ogilvy went on to enumerate 32 “basic rules of good advertising,” starting with “The proved principles of mail-order advertising should be applied to all campaigns.” He lauded the ability of direct mail to measure results with coupon returns, and described the benefits of long copy and offering service and the effectiveness of photographs over drawings”

Suffice it to say the poor poet had to declare defeat. “Ogilvy overwhelmed me. He had the findings of research. I had only opinions.” he said.

It’s a great lesson in what research actually allows you to do.

Not only for your business, but for you in the face of stakeholders.

Get the research, prove your point. Grow your business.

As simple as that.

Simple, not easy though.

Reason why I spend 70% of the time in my projects on research and on collecting data.

Anyway, I do think creativity and “opinions” have their say in marketing.

Creativity is what helps you grab the attention of users…

…but only once you’re already using voice of customer data properly and need an extra push.

If you want to learn how to do it, let’s talk.

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