Luke Sullivan's Mistake

When “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This” was published, Luke Sullivan was the best copywriter in the world. 

I had long admired Luke Sullivan’s work at The Martin Agency and Fallon, so when I heard that he had written a book on advertising, I knew I had to read it.  I didn’t plan on buying it though.  I figured I would just borrow a copy from someone at the office.  But then my friend and fellow copywriter Scott Corbett told me that it had one of my ads in it.  

As soon as I heard that, I went directly to Borders and bought a copy. 

I was so excited that my ad was published in a book that I didn’t care what kind of book it was.  I was like John Candy in Splash when he got a story published in the Penthouse Forum.  He was published.  And now, so was I.

When I saw it, I was ecstatic.  On page 25 in all its glory was Absolut Magnetism.  My ad.  But what I really wanted to see was my name.  So I quickly flipped to the credits on page 246.  I couldn’t believe what I saw.  I was listed as the art director.  I’m a copywriter.  What an insult.  What an oversight.  How could the great Luke Sullivan have made such an egregious mistake? 

I fumed about it for a while and then wallowed in self-pity for hours.  I wasn’t listed as the copywriter in the book by the greatest copywriter ever. 

Then I realized that the only people who check those credits are the guys who did the ads.  So I was the only one who noticed.

Since I really couldn’t do anything about it, my rationalizing continued.  If you work on the Absolut vodka campaign, it’s probably better to be known as the art director than the copywriter.  The campaign is one of the most famous print campaigns of all time and it’s art direction heavy.  It’s certainly not what one would call a copy-driven campaign.  There are only two words in each ad.  In this case, Absolut Magnetism.  Since the word Absolut is in every ad, what does a copywriter have to brag about?  “Hey, I came up with the word Magnetism?”  So maybe Luke actually did me a giant favor by listing me as the art director.

After I got over the initial shock of Luke’s gaffe, I decided that I might as well read the book since it was about copywriting and I was a copywriter even though Luke didn’t think I was.

Every page of “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This” is filled with nuggets that have stayed with me ever since.  “Never present an idea to a client that you don’t want to produce.”  “Choose your battles carefully.”  And my personal favorite, “Outlast the Idiots.”

What I found in Luke’s book changed my career.  No, I didn’t become an art director.  I became a much, much better writer.

Not that you can tell from this blog. 

Thank you Luke. 

And best of luck at Savannah College of Art & Design.  Wait a minute.  Aren’t you a copywriter?