Quick, Don't Think: Who's The Most Famous Person In Advertising?

If you're like the Riff, the first name that popped into our pea-sized brain was Madison Avenue's seemingly ubiquitous poster boy of creativity, Alex Bogusky. But that was because of the ground rules we were given: "Don't think, just give me the first name that pops into your mind." So we went with the name that is au current and top of mind. But when our interrogator, responded with a, "Hmmm," we were forced to probe on our own behalf and inquire, "So who did you come up with?" When he replied, "Lee Clow," it made us think about what actually constitutes "fame" on Madison Avenue, and who actually is the most famous.

Ask Joe Public, and you're likely to get responses like, Mr. Peanut, The Pillsbury Dough Boy, or Bogusky's very own Subservient Chicken, but do you think many, if any of the proletariat has actually heard of either Clow or Bogusky? Sure they've seen Bogusky's pretty boy mug gracing the cover of some business mag on a newsstand somewhere, but they probably just figured they were actually looking at the cover of Rolling Stone or Spin magazine. He is a rock star, after all.



But the encounter made us think deeper, which is not something we do all that often, so we decided to conduct some actual research. So we turned to our old friends Google and plugged in some of the best-known agency names we could think of, and indexed their news coverage for two points of time: the "past month" and "all dates."

Based on current fame, Bogusky does indeed look pretty famous by Madison Avenue's standards, but he ranks only fourth behind the genuinely most famous person in the advertising world, WPP's Martin Sorrell (who also happens to be the only knight on this round table), Don Draper, and David Ogilvy. But it's interesting to us, at least, that Bogusky is almost as famous as Ogilvy, at least by current standards.

In terms of "all dates," which in Google's Internet time really just means all the news they've indexed since the early 1990s, Sorrell also is the clear champion, and by a wide margin. But Ogilvy ranks second to fictional ad guru Draper. But why is it that unconscionable industry self-promoter Jerry Della Femina ranks fourth, ahead of true advertising innovators like, gulp, Bill Bernbach, Clow, and Bogusky? Hey, we're talking the advertising business here, not Nobel laureates.

Google News Index

Past Month

"All Dates"

Martin Sorrell



David Ogilvy



Don Draper



Jerry Della Femina



Bill Bernbach



Lee Clow



Alex Bogusky



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