“Advertising has to do more than entertainment. It must sell,” Kenneth Roman explained.
Roman, the former chairman and CEO of international advertising and communications firm Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, spoke to about 25 students at a Master’s Tea in the Trumbull College faculty lounge Thursday afternoon. Throughout the talk, Roman shared anecdotes about his book, “The King of Madison Avenue: David Ogilvy and the Making of Modern Advertising,” which was released in December 2008.
(Roman’s granddaughter is an editor for the News.)
He began the talk with a disclaimer: “One thing I certainly didn’t want to do when I was your age was go into advertising.”
Roman then gave an overview of his book, which is a biography of the advertising genius David Ogilvy, the British man who founded Ogilvy & Mather in 1948. He described Ogilvy as “movie star handsome” and “quirky, humorous, outrageous — the most interesting man in the business.”
“If you can’t advertise yourself, how can you advertise your clients?” said Roman, quoting one of Ogilvy’s memorable expressions.
While sharing highlights from Ogilvy’s biography, Roman recounted Ogilvy’s childhood that Ogilvy attended Fettes — a strict British boarding school — at the age of 9 and later went on to study at Oxford. But he dropped out and became a chef at a French restaurant where he learned how to be a successful manager, Roman said.
Roman recited an Ogilvy quote: “I wasn’t a scholar. I was a duffer at games. There is no correlation between success at school and success in life.”
Ogilvy was never satisfied staying one place or doing the same thing, Roman explained. After a brief stint selling stoves in Scotland, Ogilvy moved to New York to open an advertising agency. Over the years, he became the “most talked about man on Madison Avenue” and the apostle of “brand image,” Roman said.
Roman shared one of Ogilvy’s most famous expressions to illustrate Ogilvy’s commitment to the consumer.
“The consumer is not a moron, she’s your wife. Don’t insult her intelligence.”
While the four students interviewed at the talk were not familiar with Roman in particular, they attended because of their interest in Ogilvy and the advertising industry in general.
Monish Shah ’12 said Roman offered a “comprehensive overview,” which was enhanced by his “personal anecdotes and insider knowledge.”
Another student at the talk, Lindsay Barbee ’09, said she found Roman’s “down to earth chat” relevant to her current job hunt.
“I worked for a subsidiary of Ogilvy this past summer through Bulldogs in Ghana and as I’m applying for jobs in the advertising industry, it was enlightening to hear about the changes in the field and be reminded of traditional techniques that are fail-proof,” Barbee said.