Had the rare opportunity to do some reading over the brief winter break. Since my new books hadn’t arrived on time (I’m lookin’ at you Amazon), I re-read the third edition of Luke Sullivan’s timeless ad guide: Hey Whipple, Squeeze This. Read the first edition in college. About…ohhh…12 years ago. Totally different lens to read it through now. But damn, such wonderful advice every creative needs to keep front and center at any stage of their career. Here are a few nuggets of wisdom to keep firmly planted in your mind-brain. I’ll post more soon. I’ll even expand on a few as they pertain to my “12-years-in-the-business” filter.
BRAND = ADJECTIVE /// SIMPLE = GREAT
Strip your brand down to the bone. People don’t have time to figure out what your brand stands for. Make your brand stand for ONE THING. Pair it with one adjective.
In the world of automotive:
Jeep = Tough
Porsche = Fast
BMW = Performance
Volvo = Safe
Nothing overly complicated. No marketing bullshit. Just simple, liberating, honesty. Claim your brand adjective. It can’t be remotely close to a competing brand. It must be unique. Own it.
INSIST ON A TIGHT STRATEGY
Vague strategies inhibit. Precise strategies liberate. When you have it just right, the strategy should be evident in the campaign but the campaign should not be evident in the strategy.
For creatives: If the campaign is merely a regurgitation of the brief, there has been no creative leap, and the campaign lacks executional force.
Push as hard as you can for a simple, tight strategy.
WHAT YOU SAY HAS TO MATTER
WIFFM. What’s in it for me. If the consumer doesn’t get something that matters to them, does something for them, they won’t give a shit.
TEST STRATEGIES…NOT EXECUTIONS
Sit down with client, planners, AEs. Explore all possible strategies. Select 5-6. Create “benefit boards.” Very simple ad-looking things. A picture and a simple headline that plainly spells out the strategy you want to test.
Say the product is aspirin:
Two aspirin on a table…or…someone nursing a headache…simple.
The fastest acting. Easy on the stomach. Smaller, easier to swallow.
They’re not really headlines. They’re not ads. They’re benefits. Show 10 or so of these boards to a focus group and you’ll get a good idea of which message resonates.
Dullness won’t sell your product. But neither will irrelevant brilliance.
The best ideas are discovered. Not created. Find the long-neglected truth in a product and give it a hug. Discover the universal human truth of a category.
Always express the benefit of the benefit. The human benefit. People don’t buy ¼ inch drill bits. They buy ¼ inch holes.
DON’T LOOK FOR WHAT’S WRONG WITH A NEW IDEA.
LOOK FOR WHAT’S RIGHT.