My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The advertising classic Hey Whipple, Squeeze This is subtitled The Classic Guide to Creating Great Ads, and while the Fourth Edition of this well-known book doesn’t exactly tell you how to create great ads (I doubt any book could), it does offer a glimpse into the mind of one of advertising’s uber-copywriters — Luke Sullivan.
Sullivan is entertaining and clever, and the book reflects his more than three decades atop the advertising heap. At points, he *tries* to outline a method for developing great advertising, but in the end, you read a work like this for the perspective and insight on the work and the industry, not step-by-step tutorials.
Sullivan rose through the ranks during the “Golden” age of print, so it’s not surprising he focuses largely on print advertising. Fortunately, he also covers emerging online media, broadcast, etc.
In fact, the chapter on radio was a favorite, though the “online” chapter was a disappointment — it felt like little more than a recitation of all the standard online marketing/social media hype and buzzphrases we’ve been subjected to the last five years.
Copywriting now covers a lot more media channels than it used to, and Sullivan cops to that in later chapters by advising readers to avoid focusing on headlines or images, concentrating instead on ideas and concepts capable of spanning almost any media channel.
Along the way, Sullivan nicely illustrates his ideas with ads (many of which you’ll recognize from the award books).
A warning to the ADHD folks reading this: “Hey Whipple” is a long book and it took me a while to plow my way through it. At times it meanders and indulges, and at one point Sullivan describes the clients/co-workers you find in the business in less-than-flattering terms. It was funny, but mostly felt more like some bizarre form of payback rather than useful information.
“Hey Whipple…” is not without its faults, but there is quality here, and for those who think being a copywriter means typing SEO articles all day long, it provides a perspective on a more rarefied aspect of the profession.
It’s useful (and too long and a little too indulgent), but it’s a must-read for anyone thinking of building a career in the creative universe. More-established copywriters will also find a few goodies to reflect on, and overall, making this one of the better advertising/copywriting/creativity books you’ll find.
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