College of Media | News

Luke Sullivan presentation, Leveraging Cultural Tension to Improve Creativity

Hannah Ryan
10/15/2012  8:00 am

Luke Sullivan, author of Hey Whipple, Squeeze This; The Classic Guide to Creating Great Advertising, winner of 20+ One Show pencils, chair of the Department of Advertising at the Savannah College of Art and Design, and recently named as one of the fifteen most Important Advertising Strategy Thinkers as ranked by influence visited the Charles H. Sandage School of Advertising on October 8th. The following are the reflections of advertising senior Hannah Ryan on Sullivans presentation entitled Leveraging Cultural Tension to Improve Creativity.


Ryan writes:


First Luke Sullivan tip  When you sit down to concept, turn everything off. He defines it as continuous partial attention. We may think we can, but we dont know how and never will know how to do two things at once. Second Luke Sullivan tip  If you want to go to grad school, go to SCAD. After hearing this eye-opening presentation by an advertising legend, Im considering it Mr. Sullivan; Im considering it. 


Throughout the presentation, Mr. Sullivan exposed hundreds of eager-to-learn advertising students to the human truth that makes entertainment and personality thrive  tension. It keeps our gears turning and our minds attentive. Its what turns a book into a best seller and a movie into a box office hit. Its the foundation to build brands on if you want the eyes and ears of eager loyalists. What would Apples 1984 be without a sledgehammer flying into the dictator IBMs hypnotic display? Would people have even thought twice about Apple computers if they saw a woman in bright red shorts hanging out with her friends and talking about how much she loved her new Macintosh? When everything is okay with a situation, we find ourselves changing the channel. 


The theory of successful tension doesnt mean that ad people are just walking, talking pessimists. It just points out how the every-day negatives work. Even Got Milk, an innocent campaign promoting milk consumption, has a negative human truth to it. We all know we hate that feeling of losing a radio contest because peanut butter is prohibiting us from speaking. Ads with this angle may have negative connotations, but they are pointing out the true problems in human nature that we face every day. Yes, we may not eat peanut butter sandwiches every day, but we constantly face conflicts that we want solutions for. 


With this presentation, we realize that there is nothing stronger for a brand than to address everyday tension. We are going to use FedEx because we dont want our boss to yell at us for late packages. Your parents chose Allstate because they cant be in control of what the road is going to throw your way. We are going to Vegas because we dont want all of the terrible decisions we make over spring break to come back and haunt us. With his immeasurable experience and vast knowledge, Luke Sullivan truly used his time at the University of Illinois to engage and educate us. We are incredibly grateful to have gotten the chance to hear from him. 


Sullivan presentation


Sullivan Presentation


Sullivan Presentation


Sullivan Presentation


Sullivan's books: 

Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This: The Classic Guide to Creating Great Ads


Thirty Rooms to Hide In: Insanity, Addiction, and Rock 'n' Roll in the Shadow of the Mayo Clinic