This summary and review of the book, Hey Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to Creating Great Advertising, was prepared by Wayne Crawford while a MBA student in the College of Business at Southeastern Louisiana University.
Luke Sullivan’s Hey Whipple, Squeeze This is a very informative book written to those interested in creating ads and getting into the advertising industry. Although I am not planning on entering this industry, after reading this book I feel much more knowledgeable about the industry. Sullivan has created three editions to this book, to keep up with the changing mediums being used for advertising. In this edition he added information to cover advertising with new media and direct-response television. Even with this book originally being written many years ago, the information inside still holds true. Luke Sullivan is an award-winning copywriter and what some consider an “ad God”. He has worked with many agencies from big to small, and currently is working at GSD&M in Austin, Texas. Hey Whipple, Squeeze This. brings to light some very useful information that may help people when seeking a career in the advertising industry. He begins the book by explaining the business and describing towards Mr. Whipple for the reader. Luke Sullivan then describes the process of creating ads and how to really get started. The author takes a turning point from here and goes on to cover each medium that you may run into after having a little experience in the industry. Chapters five and six were put together to introduce making television commercials and direct-response television spots. Sullivan explains throughout the next chapter that advertising through radio is the toughest medium you will come across. In chapter eight the author elaborates on how to help you create good work and not get discouraged. Moving on the author provokes the reader to step out over the edge when creating work. He progresses by talking about the many enemies of advertising. In this industry about twenty percent of your time will be spent creating your work, the other eighty percent will be spent presenting and protecting your work from others. Sullivan wraps the book up by covering some pointers and hints on actually getting into this business once you have made that decision. He continues to elaborate on the idea that although some of the time you do actually have to accomplish things, advertising is a great business to be in. Sullivan has added a list of suggested readings as to help you after you have finished Hey Whipple, Squeeze This. As I said before, I am not interested in a career in marketing. After having read this book, if I were to make this industry my career I would feel much more comfortable when trying to attain a position at an ad agency. One review said “This is a business that is changing like crazy – but Luke Sullivan’s advice is timeless. If you’re good at advertising, this will make you better. If you’re great, it’ll make you even greater”. I have learned a great amount of information after reading this book and I am glad to have made the selection that I did.
The Ten Things Managers Need to Know from Hey Whipple, Squeeze This
1. Marketing, no matter the type of media being used, does not have to suck!
2. The best creative ads are SIMPLE!
3. Know your product from every aspect you possibly could.
4. Do you know your customer? You have to know what their need is, without it forget the whole idea.
5. You must dramatize what your product’s benefit actually is for the customer, not always the actual product. “People don’t buy quarter-inch drill bits. They buy quarter-inch holes.”
6. Everyone that your employees will present their ads or campaigns to, will just be another person trying to kill it. Be ready to defend your idea, its where most of the time will be spent.
7. When creating an ad, you do not necessarily have to be funny, or serious, you must always be interesting.
8. In advertising, know what lines are dead. They are dead, at least for now, deal with it.
9. When thinking of ideas, don’t think ad, think campaign.
10. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!
Full Summary of Hey Whipple, Squeeze This
Hey Whipple, Squeeze This is an extraordinary book written by Luke Sullivan originally in 1998. Since 2008, the third edition has been published. Sullivan has reworked this book due to new advertising mediums. This edition was published to cover new media, guerrilla, and direct marketing. Although the book has three editions, many of the ideas and concepts used in the first edition (written over 10 years ago) have remained the same. Before reading the book I read several reviews that describe his advice as “timeless and relevant.” The majority of the reviews was good and explained that Luke Sullivan was one of the best in the industry. These types of reviews are what intrigued me to choose it. I read one that stated, “This is a business that is changing like crazy – but Luke Sullivan’s advice is timeless. If you’re good at advertising, this will make you better. If you’re great, it’ll make you even greater.” I came upon this book when selecting from a random “Top Ten Marketing Books of All Time” article, which can be found using any well-known search engine. If you are at all like me, when reading this title for the first time you ask, “Who or what is a Whipple?” This leads me directly to the first sentence of chapter 1.
In chapter 1, Luke Sullivan starts by explaining his hatred for Mr. Whipple. Mr. Whipple, I soon learned, was a fictional supermarket manager who interrupted television shows all across America from 1964 to 1985. Mr. Whipple was famous for shooing away female customers who would squeeze the Charmin’ after committing the crime himself, thus campaigning the softness of Charmin’. Sullivan stated that after P&G created Whipple, they knew they had a winner and there was no getting rid of him. After many “assassination attempts”, Mr. Whipple remained one of advertising’s most bulletproof personalities. Although consumers were irritated by repetitious commercial, P&G knew what they were doing and it worked like magic. Whipple was selling literally billions of rolls of toilet paper, knocking off its competitors and moving Charmin’ to the number one company in toilet paper sales. Sullivan goes on to explain that this problem in advertising is one that has been around since the 1950’s. The problem is that advertisements do not have to suck or embarrass themselves at all. He explains that he entered college as premed, and after the first grade on his transcript was “F” he quickly reconsidered. He majored in psychology, and after not finding the ideal job, was hired on to a construction crew. When given the opportunity to be the editor of a small neighborhood newspaper came around, he took it. After a year and a half there, he landed an interview with Tom McElligott, where he convinced McElligott to give him a shot. Sullivan was initially hired as a copywriter without much work to do at first, so he studied the annual awards shows over the years as “schooling”. After admitting that the beginning of this career may be slow, he presents his opinions that he has gathered through his career or writing, selling, and producing ideas for a wide variety of clients.
In the next chapter, Sullivan tries to explain what a great job opportunity working for an ad agency can be. It is a field in which you will never get bored, and spend a large part of your time with your feet up on a desk talking to your partner about movies. Throughout this chapter he warns the reader that there is a time when you actually must work. He begins to touch on the effects that advertising does have on sales when executed correctly. He suggests that brand names stand for one adjective. “Nike exhorts, IBM solves, and Sony dreams” he quotes from Dan Weiden, explaining that your brand must say something. He also begins to unravel the idea of simplicity. He concludes this chapter by giving examples of things you should know before you put the pen to paper. Some examples he gives are: go to focus groups, look at the current positioning of the brand, read publications that your ad will appear in, look at competitors’ advertising, make what you say matter, know your client’s business, and get to know your client’s customers.
In the third and fourth chapters Sullivan explains to the reader the concept of creating the broad strokes of an ad, and the adding the fine touches to it. Sullivan notes all of the aspects that should be taken into consideration when creating the campaign or ad. He includes all the ideas aimed at the reader that should be racing through your head when creating the idea. These ideas range from how you want your reader to feel to finding the central truth about the product. The concept of “simplicity” is reiterated throughout these chapters, as well as the decision to go visual or textual, and how to walk the thin line of merging the two. Luke Sullivan uses these chapters to show different ads/campaigns that have been more successful than others over the years. According to the author, you should start by coming up with a lot of ideas, keep writing especially when you’re hot, and remember that all you need is quick sketches to remember an idea.
In chapter 5, the author gives advice on using television commercials as your advertising medium. He explains that you must be sure to create good television commercials. When creating television commercials, the main issue is that whatever you put on television will be visible nationwide. Sullivan’s primary rule when producing a great television commercial is that you must write one first. Another concept to think about when creating a television commercial is how much money you are going to be allotted to create the commercial. Sometimes the easiest way to produce a good television commercial is to find one great image and then build a story around it. One way of making your commercial good, Sullivan explains, is to make your commercial so visually powerful that the viewer could understand the commercial without sound. Sullivan also urges the reader to remember the most important rule he stresses throughout the entire book– be simple. The author also confides in this chapter that thinking big is acceptable when doing a television commercial, even if given a stabilized budget. The author refers to the “cog” commercial done by Honda, which shows how well a Honda is built by showing the pieces of the car working together like dominoes. Then he also references Guinness brand’s commercial titled “evolution” which shows evolution in reverse. Both of these commercials were considered by the author as extremely effective commercials given limited budgets. The author continues by advising those producing television spots to, if possible, make the first two seconds of your spot visually unusual. You must be entertaining throughout your entire commercial and remember to write sparingly. It’s a visual aid and you need to remember that you do not want to have a visual television spot that has writing everywhere– that’s what magazines are for. When you create a television spot, create a television spot, do not force it to look like your print ads. The last tip the author gives on creating television spots is that you should try to avoid saying what you’re showing and showing what you’re saying.
The author devotes chapter six to creating direct-response television spots that are actually effective and “do not suck.” Sullivan describes many direct-response television spots as worse torture than what was given in medieval times. I completely agree with him in that direct-response television spots can be the most horrifying spots in television today. Due to entrepreneurs solely focused on attempting to sell widgets on television daily, these television spots have become, what the author considers, “television’s mutant stepchild.” Whether you are doing long or short direct-response television spots, you must ensure that you have a clear call of action and that you do not create a rambling on of events attempting to push the product. Some tips from the author on this subject are to be passionate and clear, say the product’s name, and get a good director. When producing long-form spots, be sure to begin by writing out your call to action. You must then have a unique offer in your call to action, and produce some type of incentive on top of the offer. One issue with today’s direct-response television spots is the idea of the phone number. You must bring in the phone number at the right time and in the right form. Again, please do not suck.
The next aspect of marketing covered in Hey Whipple, Squeeze This is the advertising medium of radio. Radio, in this book, is regarded to as the worst type of advertising to be assigned to, no matter what. When writing a radio spot, the author explains that radio is visual and considered “theater of the mind”. Once again the author brings up this rule as the first rule of radio advertising, which is “do not suck.” To begin your radio ad you must figure out the right tone for your commercial. Another tip given in this chapter is that too many writers try too hard to make their radio spot funny. One of the biggest clichés in radio advertising is that you have to be funny. What you have to realize when creating radio ads is that you’re trying to capture an audience that is not very easily captured. I am sure that we have all experienced this idea, but imagine the mother that fits in your target market. She is trying to get from point A to point B, with all of the stressors of life in mind, and two children fighting in the backseat. The last thing on her mind could easily be your radio spot. One thing the author covers, which I completely agree with, is the idea of being funny. If you are going to attempt to be funny please avoid the many comedic clichés. Also, being funny is not enough– you must have an idea as well. One key aspect of doing radio ads is “finding your voice.” Your product or company has a voice, it’s out there– you just have to find it. The voice of your radio spot can make or break the spot, which in turn will make or break you. You should always remember to make your spot entertaining, all the way to the end, especially when you get to the sell. Please do not do jingles.
Throughout chapter eight the author gives the reader very general advice about advertising. Although the ideas in this chapter have been thought of by many, the advice given can take you a long way. When making a spot, regardless of the advertising medium, there are certain things you should always do. Imagine a day in the life of your customer. Imagine the buying process that your customer will participate in. Try picking a small customer contact point and then think big. Try approaching a campaign by bringing your idea to life in one medium and then move on to the next. You are not forced to do the same advertising that you have seen in the past– try something naughty, be provocative. A different way of getting your company known is not creating an ad, but creating an event. Half of creating an event is the event itself; the other half is leveraging it for all the public relations mojo you can get. Try to create something that is so cool it invites the customer to come play, and also is cool enough that people watch it without you having to pay them. Chapter nine is a short chapter devoted to “working out past the edge.” This part of the book wants to provoke you to get rid of everything that you learned, to do what you know, and do it creatively. If you have a hunch, a really strong hunch, obey it. Some concepts in the advertising industry can be the strongest ideas out there, without ever throwing in a sales pitch. It’s been said that there are no new ideas, only rearrangements of ideas that have already been thought up. What you can look forward to is that there really are new ways of communicating ideas that have never been discovered. So your idea has been thought of and used before, but has not been communicated the way you are attempting to communicate it.
Chapter ten describes the different types of clients that you will run into throughout your advertising career. The first account is the type of account you get put on that does not even want to run advertising. Although they may not want to participate in advertising, they would like you to show them an ad would be if they were to participate. The “meat puppet” is the type of account that “just doesn’t like it”. As the Chinese say, “the fish stinks from the head”, and in the meat puppet account the fear of overspending dribbles down from the top executives. Another example of a bad account to attempt to market is what the author names “The Koncept Krusher 2000”. This type of account believes in finding a reason to destroy anything that you come up with, no matter the quality. The Liz account is the huge famous brand that moves from agency to agency, giving the agencies the opportunity to market their brand while insisting on marketing what they already have in mind. The author continues on through the chapter describing the different accounts that you are likely to encounter in this industry that can really put a damper on your life.
Luke Sullivan devotes chapter eleven to the idea of presenting and protecting your work in the advertising industry. He explains that in this industry about twenty percent of your time will be allotted for creating ads, while eighty percent of your time will be given to protecting those ideas. There are several do’s and don’ts from the author in this chapter. Some often overlooked details on presenting ideas can really sell your ad. Always prepare for your presentation of the idea, and present your own work. Some things you should refrain from doing are: trying to be slick, memorizing speeches, and handing out materials before you present. When presenting your campaign, try to avoid the subject of risk. Never attempt to tell a client they will love your stuff, do not show them what they do not need to see, and do not leave your best work at your agency. Remember you want to be on the client’s side, not arguing against them. Through the rest of the chapter he describes the different processes and outcomes that you may encounter when presenting and defending your work to the client. Sullivan swiftly runs through the information in the last two chapters, which cover thoughts about getting into the advertising business and an explanation of how great the business can be.
The Video Lounge
The video clip linked above shows the author, Luke Sullivan, at a large interactive festival called South by Southwest held every year in Austin, TX. The interactive festival focuses on emerging technologies and has earned the festival a reputation as a breeding ground for new ideas and creative technologies.
- Why I think the author is one of the most brilliant people around:
Luke Sullivan is a very advanced, successful individual in today’s marketing world. He has worked with top agencies and has much experience with all different types of advertising. Throughout the book I learned that he was able to write in such a way that would lead me to think towards one extreme and then to the opposite. It amazes me that the first edition of this book was written in 1998 yet continues to be considered one of the most relevant advertising reads around. I feel I would be better prepared for the first step in to the world of advertising after this book than ever before.
- If I were the author of this book I would have done these three things differently:
1. I would have gone more in-depth about the life of someone employed by a smaller agency. On numerous occasions, the author referenced the “agency life” in which he referred to the life of someone employed by the larger agencies located in the larger cities.
2. I would have grouped things a little differently. Sullivan broke things down a little too much by telling you the extreme and what not to do, then telling the reader not to do the other option that popped into their mind. I would not have had the separations throughout the book as the author chose to use.
3. I would have focused at least one additional chapter on the best ways to transition to a professional in the marketing world today.
- Reading this book made me think differently about the topic in these ways:
1. Before reading this book, I did not realize how many young people are deciding to enter ad schools before attempting to start their career in marketing
2. The author’s statements about the life in advertising described a life of basically joking around while trying to create a beneficial idea to your client. He made it sound much more laid back when working for clients than I had expected.
3. There are so many aspects to think about while creating a great advertising campaign. All of these factors will change depending on which type of media you are working with, but to be a great campaign must work with the same simple idea throughout all media.
- I’ll apply what I’ve learned from this book in my career by:
1. Although I do not plan to be in marketing, I will apply the idea of no matter where you work, you should not be as worried about money, especially in the beginning, but focus on improving your career.
2. I will be sure to separate personal life from work. The author explains that work is work, and you can not consider it to always be the sole most important thing in life.
3. I will never settle because the organization I work for or client that is in need of assistance asks for or pursues safe or un-risky work.
- Here is a sampling of what others have said about the book and its author:
“There are a lot of books that litter the bookshelf closest to where I work. Those are the special books, the books that regardless of topics, I go back to again and again, “Hey Whipple” is one of those books. The book breaks down advertising into print, TV and radio, then ends with some trouble shooting stories and advice (“Peck to death by ducks”).Ultimately the book is a call to raise your sights and aim for smart, elegant, and creative advertising instead of merely ‘effective’ work.”- Adam Strasberg
“I really enjoyed this book and I got a lot out of it. I took several graphic design courses in college and this book helped me (belatedly) figure out what I did wrong and how I could have made my work better. It also would have helped James and Jeremy. After numerous attempts that had me rolling on the floor laughing, they almost created some decent work. It was an ad for a VW, but it sure wasn’t a VW ad.” – Jake Cornelius
While both of these reviews were in favor of the author, I also found some that were not so much in his favor. I chose these reviews due to the fact that after finishing the book I feel like these people used the book for the right reason and took from it what the author had planned. Others that refused to recommend this book to others based their reasoning on the idea that the book can only be useful for those focused on strictly creating advertisements. I disagree with these statements and I believe that this book can be used to help many people in the business world, not being limited to those creating advertisements.
Sullivan, Luke. Hey Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to Creating Great Advertising, 3rd Edition. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2008. Print.
“YouTube – Luke Sullivan.” YouTube – Broadcast Yourself. Web. March 15, 2010.
To contact the author of this article, “A Summary and Review of Hey Whipple, Squeeze This by Luke Sullivan”, please e-mail Wayne.Crawford@selu.edu.
About the Publisher
David C. Wyld (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the Robert Maurin Professor of Management at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. He is a management consultant, researcher/writer, and executive educator. His blog, Wyld About Business, can be viewed at http://wyld-business.blogspot.com/. He also serves as the Director of the Reverse Auction Research Center (http://reverseauctionresearch.com/), a hub of research and news in the expanding world of competitive bidding. Dr. Wyld also maintains compilations of works he has helped his students to turn into editorially-reviewed publications at the following sites:
- Management Concepts (http://toptenmanagement.blogspot.com/)
- Book Reviews (http://wyld-about-books.blogspot.com/) and
- Travel and International Foods (http://wyld-about-food.blogspot.com/).