The King of Madison Avenue (Unplugged)
Kenneth Roman with Moe Abdou
This is Moe Abdou. I am delighted today to have Ken Roman with me. Notonly is Ken a bestselling author, and his latest book The King of MadisonAvenue was just a great portrait of David Ogilvy. I remember reading a lotof Ken’s work years ago when he wrote a fabulous book on writing.Hopefully, we can get into that a little bit today.
Ken, thank you so much for joining us.
I’m happy to be here.
I want to start with your friend, David Ogilvy. You have an absolutely beautiful portrait in The King of Madison Avenue about David; a lot of things that I didn’t know although I studied a lot of his work. As I wasreading it, a question popped into my mind. What didn’t the world know about David?
That’s the right question. David wrote about himself a lot. I almost didn’t writethis book because he had told his story in several books, in his autobiography,articles and the interviews. What else is there to say?There are a lot of things that I had found but the most important thing I foundis this, David was seen at the time, and to a large extent still is, as a creativegenius. During the 50s and 60s, he wrote about half a dozen highly esteemedcampaigns. He is in Copywriter’s Hall of Fame and all that stuff.The thing that most people didn’t understand and that I think your audienceshould understand is that he was an instinctive leader. He was an institutionbuilder. The way he built his agency is very instructive.
You know what, because that pop. I’m going to jump to my questionnumber 5 that I had on my list and maybe it’s appropriate to talk about itright now. I’m really curious, what kind of a leader was David. How was itto work with him?
He didn’t learn anything in a business school or an MBA. He didn’t even finishcollege. He said he was thrown out of Oxford but he really dropped out; but hestudied. He studied successful people and successful organizations. Heinterviewed people or I should say he interrogated them. He learned fromsuccessful people.The thing that I can’t figure out is how the hell did he do it? He didn’t have anybusiness experience, none. He was a chef in Paris. He sold cooking stoves inScotland door-to-door. He worked with George Gallup in Hollywood doing