21 Quotes on Advertising From Howard Luck Gossage [Infographic]

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Jami Oetting
Jami Oetting




Howard Luck Gossage, also known as the"Socrates of San Francisco," is one of the most brilliant practitioners of advertising even though his name is a bit less well-known than other "mad men" of the 1950s and '60s.

He is famous for his long copy ads for Fina Oil and Chemical Company, Qantas Airlines, and Heileman Brewing Co., but his most interesting work was outside of the commercial world. 

Gossage is the one who found and brought attention to Marshall McLuhan, who famously said, "The medium is the message." Oh, and McLuhan also predicted the invention of the internet

In addition, Gossage wrote the copy for an ad in the New York Times where in which Anguilla, an Eastern Carribean island, declared its independence. His firm had even designed the flag and passport for the new republic. This eventually prompted an invasion by Great Britain in an effort thwart the threat to the crown. 

His antics in politics and attitude toward advertising are provocative and inspiring. Get to know Gossage a bit better by reading these interesting quotes from the famous ad man:

21 Quotes on Advertising From Howard Luck Gossage

1) I am an advertising man. And I long for the day when it will become a business for a grown man.

2) Is it any wonder that most advertising has the efficacy of a butterfly’s belch?

3) Advertising is propaganda; marketing is exploitation. 

4) Our first duty is not to the old sales curve, it is to the audience.

5) When advertising talks about the audience, it doesn’t mean its audience, it means somebody else’s, gathered there to watch or read something else.

6) To ask consumers how they like ads is like asking a gallery salve what he thinks of his job calisthenics-wise.

7) An ad should ideally be like one end of an interesting conversation.

8) Is advertising worth saving? Yes, if we can learn to look at advertising not as a means for filling so much space and time but as a technique for solving problems.

9) I think we could say that the creativity of an idea works in inverse proportion to the amount of time available and the number of people involved.

10) Instead of starting out the way you would with any other project, by defining the problem and then deciding what to do and then allocating the money, the procedure is reversed. The advertising recommendation is based on money to be spent rather than problems to be solved.

11) How often do you have to read a book, a news story, or see a movie or play? If it is interesting, once is enough; if it is dull, once is plenty.

12) I can’t remember ever seeing a really outstanding ad that couldn’t be traced to an outstanding ego.

13) Because if you put out an advertisement that creates activity, or response, or involves the audience, you will find that something happens that changes the character of the succeeding ads.

14) Advertising as an industry has always been morbidly preoccupied with its own “image”; largely, I think, because it has little notion of its real identity.

15) Advertising utterly fails to recognize its dependence on, and responsibility for, the media whose very existence it controls.

16) Advertising, because it is ill-defined, is constantly being lured into seemingly allied fields that have little to do with its unique talents and often interfere with them. … But there is one job it does well that no other communication form does at all: the controlled propagation of an idea with a defined objective though paid space.

17) It is my belief that advertising as an efficient exploitation medium is obsolescent, if not obsolete, for all but the lowest cost, highest profit items.

18) It is not enough to have a good idea; you’ve got to have the idea, whether it is good or not, just before it is too late.

19) Once a client has got the idea that there is really somebody out there who cares, who is interested, he no longer feels quite so driven to advertise his gasoline as though it were rocket fuel or his beer as though it were holy water.

20) All of the courageous statements made by the advertising industry could be inscribed on a 5-milligram Dexamyl tablet. 

21) The advertising industry understands everything about advertising except where its real authority rests. 

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