To understand the difference between an ad campaign and a brand platform, consider the difference between a movie and a Hollywood franchise.

Any movie that’s franchisable contains more than just one story. It suggests an entire world beyond its own borders, a world that has its own set of rules. The richer this set of rules, the more stories can be pulled out of it – prequels, sequels, and spin-offs. In movies, these are known as franchises. In branding, it’s storytelling platforms.

Platforms are the mother of campaigns. They’re ideas that create other ideas and can be the most compelling way for agencies to pitch new business. Citing industry examples, as well as some amazing work from students, Sullivan will demonstrate a system of creating brand storytelling platforms that last. 

These tensions can come from anywhere. The tension can come from culture (the national obsession with fast food versus the obsession with being thin). Or it can come from the client’s business category (in auto, it could be horsepower versus the environment).

When a strategy or a campaign is built on top of one of these tensions, great work fairly bursts out of it. Because there’s a natural energy at these points of stress that make them lively birthplaces for ideas of force and substance.

Sullivan will show how to use the principles of conflict to create everything from a campaign to entire new business presentations. Participants will leave the session with a powerful new tool they can use to create more ideas, better ideas, and get to them faster.


  • It only qualifies as a platform if it fits on a Post-It note.
  • The other sign it’s a platform? It starts talking and won’t shut up.
  • A platform is a world, a world with its own rules.
  • “World building,” popularized at science-fiction writers’ workshops in the ‘50s, is a fantastic metaphor for creating brand platforms.
  • How to create brand worlds: Truth + Conflict = Platform.


  • Any brand storyteller, client or creative
  • Pitch teams for agencies
  • Anyone who creates content for a living


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Luke Sullivan

Author, speaker, and ad veteran available to recharge, reinvigorate, and refocus marketing, advertising, and branding firms.

I give a hugely energetic series of presentations on innovation, creativity, branding, and marketing. I spent 32 years in the trenches of advertising (at agencies like Martin, GSD&M, and Fallon) and I’ve put everything I learned into my book, Hey Whipple, Squeeze This. But for me nothing beats taking the message out and speaking to living breathing audiences at clients, agencies, and conferences. You can book me on the button below.