Book Review – Hey Whipple, Squeeze This

by Luke Sullivan

When I was an ad agency creative director, I would get resumes every day from optimistic college graduates with career objectives like “Secure a position that allows me to exercise my creativity.”

Hmmm. Look, I’m smart, but I’m not psychic. What are you? Writer? Art director? Origami master? What’s worse, they did’t send any samples of their work. Don’t they teach students to put together a portfolio anymore? It’s easier than ever, with royalty-free stock photos, inexpensive educational versions of software, PDFs, email, the Internet. There’s no reason why my first exposure to a prospective employee shouldn’t be a mind-blowing audiovisual exhibition of their capabilities.

Okay, maybe it’s not their fault. Maybe nobody’s teaching them. But that doesn’t make me feel any better when a wide-eyed 20-something sits across my desk and says “What does a creative director do?”

I decided to stop bitching about this epidemic and do something about it. That something is Whipple.

Whipple, or more completely, “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This”: A Guide to Creating Great Ads, became legend around our ad agency. It was required reading for everyone in our creative department, and I used it to bludgeon any of the account service team that asked for favors (Me: “Have you finished reading Whipple?” Them: “It’s in my briefcase.” Me: “Sorry. Priority goes to AEs who are one with Whipple.”)

And, of course, “Have you read Whipple?” was the first serious question I asked of any would-be creatives who made their way into my office. If they gave the wrong answer, but I liked them anyway for some unrelated reason like their Converse tennis shoes or specific career objective on their resume, I’d print them the Whipple page from and send them away with an invitation to email me when they’d finished.

And when I say “finished” I mean not just reading the book, but working it. Because Whipple truly is an advertising school in a book. Between its covers you’ll find a couple of priceless chapters on the nuts and bolts of making a good ad. Several more chapters with detailed ins and outs of writing and producing TV and radio. Two entire chapters on protecting your best work from those that would kill it (including what to say when the client says “Make the logo bigger.”)

And the holy grail for those just out of school: A chapter that teaches everything that four years of college didn’t about how to actually get a job in the business.

The author is Luke Sullivan, a terrific copywriter whom you’ve never heard of because nobody ever hears of copywriters. Except maybe other copywriters. (Still want to be in this business? I hope so. Advertising could use some help.) Sullivan writes with great humor and the confidence that comes from years of sitting with his feet up on the desk, giant sketchpad in his hands, inhaling marker fumes, and turning out great ads.

Who should read this book? Writers or art directors who want to get into advertising. Writers or art directors who are already in advertising. Creative directors. Account service people. Agency presidents. Clients. If you work in advertising, with advertising, or around advertising, you owe it to yourself, your boss, and your clients to read this book.

1 Comment

  1. frank on 3 November 2009 at 1:02 am

    I love this book.

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