Presenting Rory Sutherland as a Hero of Advertising
Word Count: 1133 Words
Born in 1965 in a small town called Usk, Monmouthshire, Rory Sutherland has rose through the ranks in the advertising industry to become “one of the most influential figures in advertising” (The Marketing Society, 2013). Rory began his studies at his local school ‘Haberdasher’s’, and then on to further his studies at ‘Christ’s College’, Cambridge. During school, Rory was a mischievous child. His brother recalling a situation in which, in Rory’s Latin class the teacher wondered whether he had time for a new exercise.
““How much time have I got?” the master muttered to himself as he looked at
his watch. “Not long unless you give up smoking, Sir”, was Rory’s response.”
(The Wiki Man, 2011)
This sense of foolishness and carefree attitude seems to have followed Rory into his later life, work and has possibly made him the influential figure he is today.
Rory seemed to be following in the footsteps of Sir Martin Sorrell from an early age, however it seems that the rebellious attitude seemed to diminish the similarities between the two. Rory avoided attending Harvard Business School and instead, began teaching at a grammar school in Aylesbury. This would not last long however. “The contents of the staff room proved too depressing to bear” (Ogilvy, 2013). After applying to numerous advertising and marketing jobs, Rory finally landed a position at ‘Ogilvy & Mather Direct’ where things did not improve, Paul O’Donnell, chairman of Ogilvy & Mather saying “he was without a doubt the worst graduate trainee we ever hired” (The Wiki Man, 2011).
Rory had many jobs at Ogilvy and it seemed like he was terrible at all of them. Rory always had a keen eye for seeking out new developments in technology and making use of them. Rory joined the agency at the brink of a technological ‘boom’, when computers and the Internet were starting to advance rapidly. When Ogilvy got a new information machine called MAID, (a piece of equipment that would give answers to questions being typed into it), they had no choice but to let Rory use it, as he was the only one that knew how. Paul O’Donnell (2011) stated that this was the worst thing they could have let Rory do. Instead of actually planning, he would sit in front of the machine typing in question after question, looking at the answers and saying “fascinating, fascinating”. After being moved from account management to planning, and then being fired from that, it seemed like there was no hope for Rory. That was until an outcry across the office forced them to give Rory one more chance. He was moved to the creative department and flourished. Within five years Rory was made Executive Creative Director. Rory has become an expert on behavioural economics and believes advertising and marketing must be seen as a science. In a TED Talk filmed in Athens, Rory talks about how ‘Perspective is everything’ and how much too time is spent looking for “technical engineering solutions” and not enough time looking for “psychological solutions”. Using the following example where he talks about the Eurostar journey times, he sums his statement up perfectly:
“Six million pounds spent to reduce the journey time between Paris and London by about forty minutes. For maybe ten percent of the money you could have paid all of the world’s top male and female supermodels to walk up and down the train, handing out free Chateau Petrus to all passengers. You’d still have five [million] pounds in change and people would ask for the trains to be slowed down.” (TED Talks, 2012)
This is a brilliant example of the creative and knowledgeable way Rory looks at the advertising industry and using this insight, he has launched a new initiative called #ogilvychange.
Founded by Rory himself and Director of Strategy Integration Jez Groom, #ogilvychange uses leading research in cognitive...
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