David Ogilvy Biography

David Ogilvy was a renowned advertising executive who is popularly known as the 'Father of Advertising'. Check out this biography to know about his childhood, family life, achievements and other facts related to his life.

Quick Facts

Birthday: June 23, 1911

Nationality: British, French

Famous: Quotes By David Ogilvy Poorly Educated

Died At Age: 88

Sun Sign: Cancer

Also Known As: David Mackenzie Ogilvy

Born Country: England

Born in: West Horsley, Surrey

Famous as: Businessman

Subscribe to Riddle Puddle


Spouse/Ex-: Anne Cabot, Herta Lans, Melinda Street

father: Francis John Longley Ogilvy

mother: Dorothy Blow Fairfield

siblings: Francis Ogilvy

children: David Fairfield Ogilvy

Died on: July 21, 1999

place of death: Château de Touffou, Bonnes, France

More Facts

education: Fettes College, University of Oxford

Continue Reading Below

Subscribe to Riddle Puddle

David Mackenzie Ogilvy was a businessman and an advertising executive. For his brilliant skills in the field, he is often known as the ‘Father of Advertising’. His life is very interesting as well as inspirational because he established himself as the owner of one of the most famous and largest advertising agencies in the world. Not only is Ogilvy today one of the most famous names in advertising, but he was also one of the handfuls of thinkers who had shaped the advertising business in the post-World War II period. His book ‘Confessions of an Advertising Man’ still remains one of the most popular and famous books on the subject, and is a requirement in many advertising classes in the United States. He wrote several other books as well, which are considered must reads for people who want to step into the advertising world. Not only almost all his books became bestsellers, but they have also been translated to various languages and have reached over millions globally. He retired as Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather, a company built by him with the backing of two friends Mather and Crowther. He passed away in 1999.

Recommended Lists:

Recommended Lists:

Childhood & Early Life
  • Getting noticed for his manual, David Ogilvy was offered a position as an accounting executive at the London Advertising Agency Mather & Crowther. Later, he persuaded his agency to send him to the United States for a year to work for George Gallup’s ‘Audience Research Institute’ in New Jersey.
  • He worked for the British Intelligence Service during World War II, at the British embassy in Washington D.C. Here he analyzed and made recommendations on matters of diplomacy and security. His superiors were impressed by Ogilvy’s skills with analysis, human behavior, consumerism, etc.
  • After the war, he found his work to be psychologically draining. So he bought a farm in Pennsylvania, and lived there for several years with his wife, among the Amish, to enjoy the serenity and abundant atmosphere. However, when he realized his limitations as a farmer, he moved to Manhattan.
  • In 1948, he founded his own advertising agency with the backing of his friends Mather and Crowther. Initially, Ogilvy had very little funds, and for some time, they had to struggle to get clients as well.
  • In the first twenty years of its existence, his agency won assignments from companies like Lever Brothers, General Foods and American Express, and several other reputed companies. One of his greatest successes was an ad campaign with the Dove soap which helped it become the top-selling soap in the United States.
  • David Ogilvy’s principle was to be successful with his existing clients and do notable work for them in order to get big and better clients. He was highly successful in his early campaigns which helped him get big clients such as Rolls-Royce and Shell.
  • Ogilvy merged his agency in 1965 with Mather & Crowther to form an international company Ogilvy & Mather. Slowly it started expanding around the world, and earned quite a lot of reputation worldwide.
  • In 1973, he took retirement as the Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather, and shifted to France. He still stayed in touch with the company and was informed about it, though he was no longer involved with its day to day activities.
  • In the 1980s, he decided to come out of retirement. He took over as the chairman of his company’s office in India. At the same time, he visited branches of the company all over the world, and continued to represent the company at official meetings as well.
    Continue Reading Below
  • In 1989, the Ogilvy Group was purchased by WPP, a firm owned by Sir Martin Sorrell, and David Ogilvy was named non-executive chairman. He held the position for three years.
Major Works
  • His first work, which was just an instruction manual named ‘The Theory and Practice of Selling the AGA cooker’, proved to be the turning point in his career, as it landed him a job as an account executive from a mere door-to-door salesman.
  • ’Confessions of an Advertising Man’ (1963), which is a general commentary on advertising, can be regarded as the best work of David Ogilvy. It is also considered to be one of the best books for people who are aspiring to work in this field. By 2008, it had over a million copies published worldwide. It provided detailed instructions on managing an ad agency, getting and managing clients, building great campaigns, making good television commercials, etc.
Awards & Achievements
  • Though Ogilvy had wanted to achieve knighthood, he couldn’t. However in 1967, he was made a Commander of the Order of British Empire. In 1968, he was appointed as a Chairman of the United Negro College Fund.
  • In 1975, the Executive Council of the World Wildlife Fund appointed him as a Trustee. In 1977, he was elected to the US Advertising Hall of Fame. In 1979, he was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S Business Hall of Fame.
  • In 1990, he was elected to France’s Order of Arts and Letters.
  • He had also served as a member of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 100th Anniversary Committee.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • His first wife was Melinda Street, with whom he had a child named David Fairfield Ogilvy. However, the couple divorced in 1955. His second marriage was to Anne Cabot; it also had the same ending. Later, he married Herta Lans in 1973 while he was in France.
  • He passed away on 21 July 1999, at his home, in Bonnes, France. He was 88.

See the events in life of David Ogilvy in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- David Ogilvy Biography
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
- TheFamousPeople.com
Last Updated
- December 08, 2016
David Ogilvy

People Also Viewed

Angelo Georgalli
(New Zealander)
James Harris Simons
Max Thieriot
Shaun McKnight

Anson Williams
Henry Kravis
Nicole Shanahan