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Jay Heinrichs's Powers of Persuasion

Businesses scrambling to fix a failed ad campaign, adapt to social media, or improve internal communications are turning to a self-styled scholar of Aristotelian rhetoric.
Jay Heinrichs's Powers of Persuasion
Photograph by Andrew Hetherington

To a classicist, Canary Wharf, London, might be terrifying. It’s a financial district of tightly packed glass towers that mirror the sky in chemical tints. HSBC, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, they’re all here. Unadorned, gleaming, efficient architecture, a place without any nod to the past. But the past is here. The zone is built on the quays of the city’s old port, used since Roman times.

Jay Heinrichs is here, too, one of the world’s leading students of Aristotelian rhetoric. He strides down a windswept sidewalk in a simple silk sports jacket and polished cowboy boots, no scarf, no coat—it’s freezing—holding a steaming latte and keen to introduce a 2,400-year-old methodology to contemporary leaders. Today, in his second career as an American corporate consultant, he will bring the art of persuasion to one of the world’s masters of verbal manipulation: global ad agency Ogilvy & Mather. You know, one of the models for Mad Men. The firm that brought you “Schweppervescence” and “Don’t leave home without it.” According to Heinrichs, Ogilvy needs help.