David Ogilvy on ad men: “We’re not steam-heated vulgarian yahoos”

If, like me, you’re a fan of David Ogilvy, you’ll know his advertising agency bumped Britain from fourth to first-choice tourist destination for Americans โ€“ thanks to the 1950s ‘Come to Britain’ campaign.

Not everyone liked it, though – least of all in the British press.

In 1957, ‘Cassandra‘ complained in the Daily Mirror about the campaign โ€“ and the Reading Eagle (that’s Reading in Pennsylvania) picked up on the ensuing spat in a cheery article called ‘Englishmen in Tiff Over American Tourist Lure’.

“What a wretched picture this is of Britain!” rumbled Cassandra. “The supplicatory bazaar.

“What a blatant piece of bribery to catch the Yanks! How the cynical admen (probably writing from the steam-heated Sparta of Madison Avenue) have taken over!”

Back came the reply, in clipped Oxonian tones.

“We’re not steam-heated vulgarian yahoos,” remonstrated David Ogilvy. “A number of fairly thoughtful people work out the advertising.”

A gem of a phrase – though whether it’s as true today, I’ll let you judge.

Read the full Reading Eagle article โ€“ online here.

Copywriter: Ben Locker

Category: Advertising, Blog
Tags: advertising, copywriter-agencies, copywriting, copywriting agencies, copywriting agency, copywritingagency, david ogilvy, leading-uk-copywriting-agency, reading eagle, website-copywriter-agency

More: « How a murderer’s talent for copywriting won him freedom | A nugget for copywriters from The King’s Speech »


  1. “Vulgarian Yahoos” – you don’t get insults like that nowadays.

    Comment left by Andy Nattan on Tuesday 4th October, 2011 at 1:58 pm

  2. “fairly thoughtful”…*chuckle*

    Comment left by Lucy Smith on Wednesday 5th October, 2011 at 4:11 am

  3. Rather nice isn’t it Lucy? Very much the character of the man.

    Comment left by Ben Locker on Wednesday 5th October, 2011 at 8:27 am

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