Hey Whipple, Squeeze This Book Summary

by Accessory To Success August 07, 2021

Hey Whipple, Squeeze This Book Summary

Table of Contents app: Jump Links

Main Takeaway

The fifth edition of the book Hey Whipple, Squeeze This is a must read for people in the advertising industry. It is a collaborative effort of two men who share insights into the process and nuances of developing an ad campaign across media and the trials and joys of working in an advertising agency. Developing an ad campaign is a creative process built around a brand, but it is a process at risk of becoming subjugated to pursuing sales, meaning the creativity is easily lost. Follow the principles of creative ad campaign development in digital, social and traditional media channels, and the result will be award-winning advertisements that naturally lead to good sales because they appeal to the consumer’s desire to be entertained and moved by emotion. Readers also get insights on a career in copywriting and working in an advertising agency.

What You Will Learn

  • Judging advertising strictly on sales can lead to poor advertising that degrades the industry
  • Importance of writing the brief for the client that describe the key ad message or is meant to change the client’s behavior
  • Generating ideas is a process of problem-solving
  • Identifying what to say to the client is accomplished by examining the brand, the competitor products, AND the client’s business, and gaining a deep understanding of the client’s customers
  • A step-by-step process for developing a strategy for copywriting and art direction, based on the product’s emotional center and brand tensions
  • Various ways to let creativity freely flow to come up with lots of ideas and to visualize the chosen idea in the ad
  • Selecting an idea and writing the headline and ad copy that reflect the brand
  • Things to avoid in ad copywriting
  • Developing ads for traditional, digital and social media channels, including their differences and impact on consumers
  • Pursuing a career in an advertising agency
  • Finding success in the advertising industry without losing creativity due to focusing only on sales

The Book Summary

In an interesting twist, this book uses a much maligned, and much loved commercial as its basis for exploring the elements and influence of an ad campaign – the Charmin toilet paper ads that had a grocery store employee named Mr. Whipple secretly squeezing the product on the store shelf after telling customers they should not squeeze the packages.

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To get to Mr. Whipple ads, the story begins with a history that began unfolding in the 1950s and explains why everybody came to hate advertising. The authors talk about the advertising clutter in the 1950s that filled television because it was new. These ads adopted the “unique selling proposition” and led to what is called “the wall.” The wall refers to the filter people use to protect themselves from the onslaught of advertising. This onslaught of advertising is likely due to what the author of the book, Competing Against Luck, posits: People do not buy products or services. They “hire” them to do a job - solve a need. Overloading people with advertising does not convince them buyers to hire products. It turns them away.

After the wall came the “Creative Revolution” of the 1970s that was founded on the principle that it is the way advertisers say what they need to say that matters, as opposed to what they have to say. As the book, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, points out, marketing is all about the perceptions in the minds of buyers or prospective buyers. In the 1970s, market research ruled, rather than creativity, and Mr. Whipple became the man the commercial viewers loved to despise for his foolish behavior, but they bought the product (Charmin toilet paper) because, or despite of, him. Audience perceptions were a mixture of disdain, tolerance and entertainment.

This history lays the foundation for the book’s premise which is that advertising needs to be creative and not just assessed based on sales. Ideas come from problem solving which is a conscious and unconscious effort. They are the result of the free flow of imagination coupled with focused problem solving. Idea creations is a chaotic and creative process that involves dramatizing the benefit of an ad client’s services or products. Sullivan describes the elements of great copywriting which include making an adjective synonymous with the brand and creating simple ads without clutter. Great copywriting could help the brand “stick” like the authors discuss in the book Sticky Branding.

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It should be noted that Sullivan wrote the first four editions of the book. Sullivan wrote most of chapters 1-9 in the fifth edition, while Boches wrote most of chapters 10-15 in the fifth edition. Sullivan makes it clear though that Boches and he collaborated on all of the chapters in the fifth edition book.

There is an in-depth discussion of how an ad copywriter can decide what to say by learning as much as possible about the client’s brand, competition and customers. However, the ad team also needs to remember to not overthink the strategy. Sullivan walks the reader through the steps of an ad campaign project, beginning with identifying the truest thing that can be said about the product or brand which is its emotional center. The next step is to identify the central conflicts or tensions in the brand that will drive the project’s strategy. As would be expected, there is considerable discussion on various ways to come up with ideas – lots of ideas – by letting creativity flow. In the book Experiences, content creation is presented as a critical marketing strategy, and it is based on becoming more like a media company - entertaining and engaging.

One of the notable aspects of this book is that it does not pretend to have all the answers because each advertising project needs a unique idea and approach. That is why there is a lot of discussion on generating ideas, differentiating the product in the ad, using metaphors and completing an idea. Further discussion addresses writing the ideal headlines and statements that reflect the brand and backpedaling when a developed idea does not work as the project progresses. Why certain ideas go viral is a topic in the book Contagious.

The initial discussion focuses on print advertising because many of the same principles apply to any media – social, digital and traditional. However, the authors dedicate chapters to the differences applicable to various types of media. The purpose of each new edition was to continue adapting the book to include the dynamic changes that are always occurring in the advertising industry. It clearly explains how digital ad campaigns fit into the existing ad framework, but it does not just describe digital ads. The authors consider how digital and social are transforming the industry which in turn transforms the creative process. Similar to the discussion in the book Epic Content Marketing, the right marketing approach should be applied across communication channels, and that influences how a marketing team creates content.

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One of the interesting features of the book Hey Whipple Squeeze This is that it contains a large number of examples of successful and failed ad campaigns and examples that back up the authors’ perspectives on what makes a good versus bad ad. The authors carefully outline the reasons for some ads failing or succeeding, making this book a tutorial for those breaking into the advertising industry or needing a refresher on the good, the bad and the ugly of ad campaign development. It is a fascinating read for anyone who is interested in the principles used to develop many of the popular and now iconic ad campaigns, like the Charmin ads with Mr. Whipple. Like or not, the Mr. Whipple Charmin ads were effective, which is different from the creativity discussed in the book Creativity, Inc.

There are also chapters dedicated to explaining the best way to build a career in advertising. Like the book It’s Called Work for a Reason says, career success is up to the individual. Sullivan and Boches want readers to get a good feel for the day-to-day operations of ad agencies. There is even a chapter on how to protect work. One of the messages sent to readers is that succeeding in the ad industry should not mean focusing only on sales. It is important to succeed without selling out creativity.

About The Authors

Luke Sullivan graduated with a BA in Psychology at St. Olaf College in 1976. He has more than 32 years of experience in the advertising business and worked for elite advertising agencies that include The Martin Agency, Fallon and GSD&M. In 2011, Sullivan became Chair of the Advertising Department at the Savannah College of Art and Design. He is a sought after speaker and workshop presenter on topics like branding, advertising, and marketing both online and off, offering pragmatic and insightful advice for honing creative skills and managing creative people. Sullivan maintains a blog. He is a member of the National Speakers Association.

In 1998, the first edition of the book Hey Whipple, Squeeze This was published. Since then, there have been four more editions, and each one updates the guide to creating great advertising to accommodate new media channels in the digital world. The fifth edition of Hey Whipple, Squeeze This was published in 2016, and the update now includes creating advertising on all types of media – social, digital and traditional (newspaper, radio, etc.). Sullivan’s book has become the quintessential guide for advertising in a dynamic industry. Sullivan’s second book, Thirty Rooms to Hide In: Insanity, Addiction, and Rock ‘N Roll in the Shadow of the Mayo Clinic, was published in 2012.

Edward Boches is co-author of Hey Whipple, Squeeze This (5th ed.). He graduated with a BS in Mass Communication/Media Studies in 1976 at Boston University and also earned a BS in Public Communications at the same time. Boches worked for the premier advertising agency Mullen for 31 Years. During that time, he held various titles – Executive Creative Director, Managing Partner; Chief Creative Officer and Chief Innovation Officer. Boches earned numerous awards for creative excellence, including Cannes, Clio, One Show, the New York Art Directors Club, Communication Arts and more than 100 Hatch Awards.

Since July 2012, Boches has held the position of Professor of Advertising at Boston University, College of Communication. He teaches strategic and creative courses with a focus on digital and emerging media. In 2013, Boches won the Lyndon Baines Johnson Faculty Advising Award. Edward Boches is also a part-time documentary and street photographer, and examples of his work are found at Boches Photography. He has earned numerous awards and recognition for his photography work which supports local communities. Boches also supports The One Club For Creativity in various capacities.

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