The Art of Advertising (Great Quotes on Advertising, 1)

Advertising is the life of trade. —Calvin Coolidge

Advertising is “the lubricant for the free-enterprise system.” —Leo-Arthur Kelmenson (1976)

Advertising is the poetry of Capitalism. —Michael Maynard, Chair of the Department of Advertising at Temple University

Advertising is the foot on the accelerator, the hand on the throttle, the spur on the flank that keeps our economy surging forward. —Robert W. Sarnoff

Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does. —Steuart Henderson Britt (1956)

You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements. —Norman Douglas, Scottish novelist & essayist, in South Wind, Chapter 7 (1917)

It is often charged that advertising can persuade people to buy inferior products. So it can—once. But the consumer perceives that the product is inferior and never buys it again. This causes grave financial loss to the manufacturer, whose profits come from repeat purchases. —David Ogilvy

Advertising is not the noblest creation of man’s mind, as so many of its advocates would like the public to think. It does not, single-handedly, sustain the whole structure of capitalism and democracy and the Free World. It is just as nonsensical to suggest that we are superhuman as to accept the indictment that we are subhuman. We are merely human, trying to do a necessary human job with dignity, with decency and with competence. —Leo Burnett

“It Pays to Advertise”
The codfish lays ten thousand eggs,
The homely hen lays one.
The codfish never cackles
To tell what she has done.
And so we scorn the codfish,
While the humble hen we prize,
Which only goes to show you
That it pays to advertise.

Advertising is to business what steam is to machinery—the great propelling power. —Thomas Macaulay


  • I’m a copywriter as well as an art historian and historian. Some years back, for inspiration, I collected my favorite quotes about advertising; they ended up in the appendix of the Versaquill Copywriting WorkbookThe quotes above are the first of eleven pages of quotes: I’ll be publishing more here occasionally.
  • If you’re impatient, order the book!
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About Dianne L. Durante

I constantly seek out art that's inspiring, thought-provoking, skillfully executed, and/or beautiful so I can share it (in jargon-free language) with others who need and enjoy such art, but don't have time to search for it themselves. As an independent scholar, writer, and lecturer, I focus on art history and history, with forays into food, history, politics, and publishing. My most recent projects are three volumes on Alexander Hamilton, From Portraits to Puddles, Central Park: The Early Years, Innovators in Sculpture (a survey of 5,000 years of art in 2 hours), and videoguide apps by Guides Who Know. Click on the Books & Essays tab for a list of all books. For upcoming projects, see my Patreon page.


The Art of Advertising (Great Quotes on Advertising, 1) — 2 Comments

  1. In the midst of the Great Depression, 1935, Leo Burnett sold his house and opened an ad agency. Some said he would soon be selling apples on the street corner.

    When working at Leo Burnett Company in my youth, serving coffee to executives, I frequently saw Leo in his office in the Prudential Building in Chicago, where the company occupied several floors. At each reception desk was a bowl of apples, free for the taking, as a reminder of his optimism.

    One his most famous lines was, “When you reach for the stars you may not quite get one, but you won’t come up with a handful of mud either.”

    The one I remember, when tempted to tweak some words that work well, “We all have to remind ourselves now and then that our job is to sell, not to entertain.”

    • That’s a great story: I didn’t know anything about Burnett. I have several quotes coming from him in future posts. My favorite (to get a bit ahead of myself): “If you insist on being different just for the sake of being different, you can always come down in the morning with a sock in your mouth.” Good advice for some modern novelists and visual artists.