My First Author Interview

I was recently interviewed for my work on "Hey Whipple, Squeeze This" and thought I would share. Enjoy!

It seems like just yesterday we were roasting Luke Sullivan (digitally) before he ventured off to SCAD. Well, before he made his way to Georgia, he asked our Director of Digital Strategy Sam Bennett to help him with his 4th edition of Hey Whipple, Squeeze This. It’s still the ad book you know and love, but this time Sam helped contribute chapters and updates on how the digital world has changed advertising. Sam took some time to give us more insight about the new edition and what it’s like to work with Luke.

1.      When did you first read Hey Whipple and why?
I was given the book during my first advertising internship. I was an English Literature/Professional Writing major in college and simply happened into advertising, so Hey Whipple was quite literally a crash course in advertising for me. The other book I was given was The Tipping Point, by Malcom Gladwell. In retrospect, I realize that kick-starting my knowledge of the business with such amazing texts on storytelling and culture and behaviors has greatly shaped my areas of interest, and my career overall.

2.      Tell us about when Luke approached you for the 4th edition.
Actually, I approached him. It started like this- he was asking me a million digitally focused questions- and after asking why, and answering several, I realized what a perfect opportunity this was for both of us. He had an experience and a skillset I wanted to sharpen, writing and storytelling, and I had something he needed for this version of the book, a strong understanding of digital and how it has changed our business. So I simply said “Hey Luke, if you’d like me to help you edit your next version, or even share some ideas or themes with you, I’d be glad to. I, you know, majored in writing in college, and fancy myself a writer…” He then asked me to share some topics I thought worth covering- and the plan was to do a specific chapter on all things digital. The more we met, the more I felt compelled to suggest that he actually re-think /re-edit the book from start to finish. As we all know- the most obvious mistake made these days is tacking digital on at the end, like an afterthought. I suggested this and to my surprise he said “I’ll send you my manuscripts. Take a stab at it. Start to finish.” So what started as an editing project became a really amazing partnership for this edition of the book.

3.      Who are you hoping will read the latest edition? Students? CMO’s? Everyone and their mom?              
Everyone, of course. I’ve already got the mom piece covered- she got the first copy. In seriousness, this book is meaningful to so many audiences. I know tenured agency folk that are pulling the book out and re-reading it or buying the latest edition, simply because it’s so timeless. And that might sounds funny to say, given that I am promoting the latest version, but honestly, that’s the amazing thing about this book and the reason I’m so thrilled to be a part of it. So much of Hey Whipple is focused on the art of creativity and storytelling- and while technology has changed the consumer and the marketplace (which is hugely covered in the book, read it and see)- the pillars of good advertising remain the same. So really students, CMOs, art directors, strategists…anyone that reads it will benefit from both revisiting the fundamentals, layered with the amazing opportunities that technology and an evolved consumer have brought us. It’s incredibly relevant- probably more now than ever.

4.      Luke Sullivan, eh? What was he like to work with?
He’s everything you would hope for. Seriously. One part brilliant ad man, one part crazy creative, and the best of all, one part down to earth mentor. The guy is sort of a legend, and yet, has no ego. He sent me his edits and his manuscripts like I had asked him to pass me the morning paper. One thing I remember is that as I was spinning all these great ideas to him- he would say “Ooh, I like that, let me write that down…” and then would scribble what I felt was a very vague note, on a piece of notebook paper, haphazardly tear it out of his notebook and toss it on his messy desk or cluttered floor, to serve as a reminder. Funny and terrifying all at the same time.

5.      Co-authoring seems like a challenge in matching writing styles – especially Luke’s. How did you handle?
It’s definitely difficult, and I let that keep me up at night until I talked to Luke about it. He said to write. Just write. And together, we would work that out. So I did, and of course, in some places I see my content, only Luke-ified, but in places where I see direct lifts, of course I feel victorious!

6.      What were the biggest challenges you faced in integrating digital into the book?
Like I said- trying to tack digital on didn’t work- so literally going back through chapter by chapter, line by line, to figure out where it fit without feeling forced was a challenge. It’s also incredibly difficult to decide which products or examples to feature. The whole point of digital is that it moves so quickly, what is true today has changed tomorrow, so I put a lot of pressure on myself to try to find examples that were strong enough to last (at least until print), without being the 2-3 cliché ones that everybody and their dog knows.

7.      Did you have a favorite moment/anecdote/chapter working on the book?
Seeing it in print. J

8.      Now that you have one book under your belt, what’s next for you as Author Sam Bennett?
It was a great experience and much like in my advertising career, Hey Whipple is definitely the start to my writing career. I learned a lot and it really whet my appetite, so I have a few things that I am focusing and working on, and hopefully in the next couple years, I’ll have more than one book with “Sam Bennett” on the cover on my bookshelf.