RPA’s Jason Sperling Talks about His New Book

Q&AAF Jason Sperling Photo

AAF-Cleveland is extremely excited to feature Jason Sperling, Executive Creative Director of RPA, at our Professional Development Event on October 20th. Jason is the author of Look at Me When I’m Talking to You, a 160-page book being published one page a day on Instagram. We asked Jason a few questions about it and about the current state of advertising.


Look at me When I’m Talking to You is the world’s first book published on Instagram. What inspired you to choose Instagram?

It was a slew of factors. I understood that people weren’t consuming content the same way they had in the past, and in this new world of attention economy, I had to get their attention and make the words digestible. Also, one of the big themes in the book was about how to break through in today’s modern marketplace, and so this was a great way for me to demonstrate my philosophy versus just saying it. As for being on the Instagram platform —  it was either Instagram or Tumblr, but Tumblr was already known for blogs. No one ever thought of Instagram as a publishing platform or even a place for words. That meant the book could become a bigger disruptor and get more attention for being unique.

By releasing your work on social media, you invite readers to respond to and critique your thoughts, page by page. How has that response been?

Maybe it’s the cynic in me, but I thought it would be so much worse. I thought the ‘Internet trolls’ would find their way over and call me out on everything I was saying, but it’s been the complete opposite. People are extremely supportive and appreciative. Rare is the insult or objection. And the readership continues to grow. It makes the daily 6:30am posts worth it.

Your book offers new rules for connecting with consumers in an attention-scarce world. In your opinion, who has a tougher time embracing these new rules – clients or creatives?

That’s a really interesting question. I would assume clients since they’re so closely tied to the business objectives and they’re in the crosshairs if they don’t get things right. But it would also be easy for an agency to play it safe with a “keep the lights on” type of client. Hard to say. But both client and agency need to get on board with them and embrace the new world order.

Rule #2 is “Be a Pink Unicorn.” Can you give an example of a brand who has been a pink unicorn this year?

I happen to love Arby’s new brand identity and their positioning of “We’ve got the meats.” They’ve positioned themselves away from their fast-food/fast casual competitors by establishing themselves as higher-quality and more grown up. Their marketing is pitch perfect, makes the menu the star and has a real freshness to it. And on top of that it wasn’t just marketing — they have radically changed their menu by adding gourmet-style meats and updated their stores to make them feel more like casual restaurants. They’re a great pink unicorn.

The industry has changed a lot since you helped create Apple’s “Mac vs. PC” campaign, declared “Campaign of the Decade” by Adweek. You mention in Look at Me that you pushed Apple out of their comfort zone by using banner ads. What do you think that campaign would look like in today’s increasingly fragmented media world?

I’m not sure it would look drastically different. The characters are what made that campaign so endearing and enduring, so they’d still need to be anchored in a content channel. The ads would probably show up in pre-roll as well as TV. Maybe we’d create social channels for them and get a bigger glimpse into their lives? Periscope a day in their lives? There are a multitude of things we could do, but the great thing about Steve Jobs is he kept the campaign focused. He didn’t want things in a million places, in environments he couldn’t control.
You can register to see Jason speak on October 20th here.

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