If you’re not familiar with “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This” – and you should be – then let’s start at the beginning with the author.
Luke Sullivan honed his copywriting skills at some of the most creative shops of the last thirty years.
Now he’s the Chairman of the Advertising Department at the Savannah College of Art & Design. So, like other ad agency creatives, who laid out some important how to’s (and how not to’s) earlier in the last century, Sullivan knows what he’s talking about.
“Hey Whipple, Squeeze This” covers just about every aspect of advertising and brand communication, and not just the ones you’d expect.
"A brand isn’t just the name on the box. It isn’t the thing in the box, either. A brand is the sum total of all the emotions, thoughts, images, history, possibilities, and gossip that exist in the marketplace about a certain company."
Of course there are chapters on TV campaigns (Chapter 5, “In the Future, Everyone Will be Famous for 30 Seconds”) and radio ads (Chapter 6, “Radio is Hell, but it’s a Dry Heat”), and the book is packed with some of the greatest print advertising of the last 60 years.
But, there’s also a brief history of advertising that will have you laughing out loud and saying “oh, THAT’s why it’s like that…”.
Plus a chapter on how to protect your work (Chapter 9 “Pecked to Death by Ducks”), and one on how to get into the business you’ve been reading about for the past nine chapters (Chapter 10, “A Good Book or a Crowbar”) and why the creative marketing and advertising industry is one you should want to get into, in spite of everything you’ve read or been told to the contrary (Chapter 11, “Making Shoes vs. Making Shoe Commercials”).
But what really makes this such a great book is not its surprising comprehensiveness, nor that it offers updated thinking about how to make ads.
Nor is it his elegant spotlighting of the advertising of the 1960s and 70s.
No, what makes this worth running out and buying is that it really captures the flavor of what it feels like to work in a great creative advertising department.
It has the funny, snarky, cynicism that runs rampant in the best agencies (like ours), tempered with the smartness, insight and context that are the hallmarks of the best creative agencies.
Or said another way, if you’re in advertising and you find this book tedious, boring and incomprehensible, then you really should reconsider your career choice because you will probably never be happy making ads.
Now, to be clear, this review addresses the second edition of “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This” which came out in 2003; since then two subsequent editions have been published, the most recent in 2012 which purports to address social media and other emerging platforms.
In this second edition, master copywriter Luke Sullivan looks at the history of advertising, from the good to the bad, to the downright ugly.
Among the most disparaged campaigns in advertising history, the Mr. Whipple ads for Charmin toilet paper were also wildly successful.
Sullivan explores the Whipple phenomenon, examining why bad ads sometimes work, why great ads sometimes fail, and how advertisers can learn to balance creative work with the mandate to sell products.
In circa 400 pages, Sullivan perfectly outlines the best techniques and creative ambition needed to make it in the advertising industry. The book is infectious and you’ll find yourself transfixed while Sullivan explores agency secrets and tips.
This is how we like our books; information, entertainment and sarcasm (not necessarily in that order).
If working at an advertising agency – and reading “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This”, for that matter – has taught me anything it has at least taught me to take nothing for granted.
But whatever edition you choose, here’s the thing that makes this book valuable to you: Read it and not only will you sound like you know what you’re talking about, there’s a better chance you actually will know what you’re talking about.
Plus, you may even discover why the difference is so important.
Hey Whipple, Squeeze This by Luke Sullivan – published by Adweek/Wiley
If you like this then why not read our book review of 1+1=3 – Dave Trott