David Ogilvy was an advertising legend. He understood that to be truly effective at what he did, he first needed permission from his audience before he could make a sale. He learnt this from his days as a door-to-door salesman, selling AGA cooking stoves in Scotland during the early 1930s. Quite simply, if he didn’t get permission to sell to his audience within seconds of them opening their doors, he would never sell them anything. He understood perfectly that he had the privilege, not the right, to sell to them, and that they held all the power.
Imagine if Ogilvy had arrived at those doors anything less then the perfect salesman. What would have happened if he had spoken to his prospects in the same way today’s retail advertisers, like Harvey Norman, Bond and Bond, Briscoes and Rebel Sports, speak to theirs? What would have happened if Ogilvy had shouted his way into homes and invaded people’s privacy without their permission?
Besides not making a sale, I’m sure he would have been on the receiving end of many beatings. And the last thing any salesman or advertiser wants is to take a beating. So why then do retail advertisers have this fascination with screaming at everybody? Is it just because that's the way everyone else does it? Or are they just not brave enough to try something else?