Famed David Ogilvy Rolls-Royce Headline Not Original

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If you think strange homages and coincidences in advertising creative are a new thing, you would be mistaken. Writing on Freaking Marketing, Robert Rosenthal shares with us the fact the famed David Ogilvy-created Rolls Royce headline, "At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock" wasn't exactly original. Perhaps this is common knowledge is some circles but it's the first we've heard of it.

In a very level headed examination, Rosenthal explains how a headline, "The only sound one can hear in the new Pierce-Arrows is the ticking of the electric clock" appeared in a Pierce Arrow print ad in 1932, many years before it appeared in a Rolls Royce ad. It's nearly identical to the Rolls Royce headline.

Certainly Ogilvy was old enough to have seen the ad but, as we've seen many times before, coincidences happen and even if work plays off former work, it's usually done, as Rosenthal points out, simply to accomplish whatever the campaign set out to do. While everyone likes to say there are no new ideas today perhaps they've been gone for over 50 years.

UPDATE: In comments, Rosenthal, after digging deeper, tells us the headline may have come from the Technical Editor of a magazine called The Motor. Oddly, it sounds like we may have known this before but don't count on our brain cells for much. We're just sharing the facts as they present themselves.

by Steve Hall    Oct- 2-07   Click to Comment   
Topic: Opinion   

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The Ogilvy copywriter attributed the "At 60 miles an hour..." line to an editor at a British automotive magazine. The first paragraph of the Rolls-Royce ad copy read, "'At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise comes from the electric clock,' reports the Technical Editor of THE MOTOR."

Here's a link to that Freaking Marketing post:

Posted by: Robert Rosenthal on October 2, 2007 12:20 PM

Very interesting. The RR ad appeared long after PA assembly line stopped all production (1932).

Posted by: arthur on October 2, 2007 2:25 PM