A David Ogilvy story

David Ogilvy was never shy about smoking a pipe.

It’s a difficult thing to do. To smoke a pipe without looking like a complete dork. Let alone pose for photographs with one casually clutched between your fingers. 

But David had the whole pipe thing down. As well as the whole English gentleman on Madison Avenue. The charming, erudite upper-class Englishman in an understated three-piece tweed suit smiling over the rash huckters.

In the 1970s, he bought and refurbished Château de Touffou, perched on a cliff overlooking the sinuous Vienne River, near the medieval town of Chauvigny in France. The closest train station is Poitiers.

The noble estate with it’s multi-towered storybook castle, perfumed gardens, stables, chapel, vineyards, bake house, kitchens, dungeons and dozens of bedrooms quickly became home to meetings, conferences and retreats for clients and senior agency executives.

One day during a retreat, an Ogilvy & Mather executive pointed out the swimming pool to another executive, telling him it’s where David Ogilvy liked to practice walking water.

And who should walk around the corner at that exact time but the great man himself, puffing on that pipe.

It was until David passed them both that he replied with a smile, ‘I don’t practice.’

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