Inspiration from the Ad world: Luke Sullivan

By themedia | February 11, 2011

Last night, I was able to attend the Denver Ad Club’s Outside Voices Speaker Session featuring Luke Sullivan, author of “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This.”

If you’re in the ad world, you know he’s kind of a big deal. He’s the go-to source on all things copywriting. His book is considered “the guide” to the craft. I’ve taken courses in advertising that teach directly from it and I can absolutely see why this book is recognized by so many industry professionals.

The topic of the night was “How to Suck Less.” Who wouldn’t like to know how to suck less in advertising or in life? But the first thing Sullivan highlighted was accepting the fact that you will suck. We all have fears that tell us that our work is going to suck. Yes, it’s going to suck but with certain techniques – you can make it suck less.

In the book, Sullivan tells us that you absolutely need to block out time to concept. You need to write everything you think of down including the puns and cliches because putting them down on paper extracts them from the stupidity that’s blocking your creativity.

Sullivan goes on to describe ideal conditions to make your work suck less. A few of the conditions included: finding a quiet place, looking inward, avoiding the distractions like Facebook and E-mail, reducing chit chat and gossip at the office.

One of the most controversial techniques he shared was the “Delete All E-mails” strategy. If you want to get an add done, you don’t need the distraction of people e-mailing you. A lot of these e-mails are crap most of the time anyway. So when your inbox is full of messages and you’re on a deadline – delete them all. It’s risky but the work gets done. Even Jeff Goodby stands behind this technique.

After all, time is your enemy in this industry but you have the control to give yourself more time to come up with compelling ads that subliminally pull your audience’s attention.

As the presentation wrapped up, Sullivan left us with the goal of making of work suck less tomorrow. I hope we don’t let the master of copy down.


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