Maybe Library Day will become a weekly feature. Oh, what is Library Day? Well, it's the day when I recommend a book I think is interesting or helpful in creating great political advertising.
The first book I'm going to recommend is, "Hey Whipple Squeeze This."
There are a lot of books that litter the bookshelf closest to where I work. Those are the special books, the books that regardless of topics, I go back to again and again. Sometimes a books come and go off the shelf depending on what I'm interested in at the time, but there are a core that stay right there: "Hey Whipple" is one of those books. (For those of you paying attention, I've already quoted from it at least twice on this blog.)
Its subtitled "A Guide to Creating Great Ads," and that's exactly what it is. Filled with observations, tips, stories and examples, it really is the one book on advertising that anyone interested in the craft should read. What I really like is that Sullivan writes in an engaging tone, and he offers advice that gives you a good theoretical grounding ("Rule #1 in producing a great TV commercial. First you must write one") while also being eminently practical ("Write sparely," which is particularly good advice to political ad makers who tend to cram as much copy into "30" second spots as they can; you've never seen a grown man cry till you try to get a voice talent read 36 seconds of copy in 30).
The book breaks down advertising into print, TV and radio, then ends with some trouble shooting stories and advice ("Peck to death by ducks").
And the title? It refers to the Charmin ads which dominated the 70's. For those of you too young to remember, Mr Whipple was the cranky grocery store clerk who admonished buyers, "Please don't squeeze the Charmin," while himself fighting his own squeezing demons. Mr. Whipple had the distinction of being both the most remembered character on tv and the most reviled. Sullivan points to the campaign as a cautionary tale of overwhelming the airwaves with ads that aren't very good can produce results, but, well I'll let him speak for himself, "What troubles me about Whipple is that he isn't good. As an idea, Whipple isn't good....To those who defend the campaign based on sales, I ask would you also spit on the table to get my attention? "
Ultimately the book is a call to smart, elegant, and creative advertising because spitting on the table demeans not only those doing the spitting (the consultants or ad execs) but those who they're spitting for (the business or candidates). Even if you win, you don't win.
For that message alone, the book is a perfect choice for my first library day.