Walking A Mile In Luke’s Shoes

Sally Hogshead has a new “Naked Career” interview up at Radio Talent Zoo. This time around Ms. Hogshead speaks to her hero Luke Sullivan, formerly of Fallon and West Wayne and now at GSD&M in Austin. That’s right, two superstar copywriters engaged in conversation about the ad business. Give it a listen.
I could tell you all about it, but I prefer to do something else. Purely for your entertainment, I will endeavor to answer some of Sally’s questions for Luke (even though I’m not Luke).

Q. What’s the best thing a person can do when sending you their portfolio?
A. Humbly ask for feedback, not a job.
Q. How would you describe the personality differences between ad people in Minneapolis, Atlanta and Austin?
A. I’ve never worked in any of these cities although I visit them often. So I’ll swap them for Salt Lake, Denver, Omaha, Chicago and Hilton Head—places I know something about. First, Salt Lake is totally unique due to the presence of the LDS Church. I worked for a Mormon-owned agency and was one of only three non-Mormons on staff. When we had parties, the agency would graciously provide a sixer of beer and I would imbibe while the partners’ wives looked on. Denver is very West Coast in attitude. Omaha less so and Chicago not at all. I felt totally out of it in downtown Chicago. While I love Chicago-style dogs, prairie style architecture, fresh lakes and aspects of winter, my freewheelin’ personality was not appreciated, nor was I at home in the skyscrapers of North Michigan Avenue. Hilton Head is beach culture. Flip flops constitute appropriate office wear here and even if I’m not wearing them, I appreciate that it’s an option.
Q. You made the switch a few years ago from being a copywriter to a being a manager. What’s that transition like?
A. Actually, I made the switch one year ago and it’s been great. While I still enjoy the challenge of making an ad or some other form of marketing communication, solving the day-to-day complexities of hiring and managing people is an even greater challenge. As is taking responsibility for not selling the work in, when that occurs. The inverse is even more important—giving away all the credit to team members when the work does sell.
Q. Is there another Luke Sullivan book on the horizon?
A. Luke said no. He also said to read Pick Me by Nancy Vonk and Janet Kestin before his own, Hey Whipple, Squeeze This. I say if you want to learn about advertising and what it takes to make it in advertising, read all the books but follow each one with lots of phone calls and face-to-face meetings, a.k.a. informational interviews. Knowledge of this craft, like any other, comes from direct contact with the best practitioners—one of the reasons the rich (or deeply talented, as the case may be) keep getting richer.

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. In order to both celebrate and critique the industry, I started AdPulp in Chicago in 2004. In 2006, I launched and led an agency content department at BFG. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.