One of the most effective ways to jumpstart the creative process and get to big ideas quickly, is by leveraging creative tensions; by using polarities to spark story. Wherever you find conflict or opposing energies, you’ll find conflict. And where you find conflict, you find the rudiments of narrative.

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.


• All drama involves conflict. Without conflict, there is no story.

• Creativity happens in response to a problem. But most briefs are written as solutions.

• Not showing a product benefit is often more interesting than showing it.

• How the human brain is wired to notice conflict.

• Conflict can be as big as good versus evil or Crest versus cavities.

• And if the product or category doesn’t have any obvious conflicts, make one up.


  • Creatives in advertising agencies
  • New business team members
  • Anyone who produces content for a living
  • Storytellers


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Suggested Reading

There is no shortcut. This is how we learn it. Bit by bit.
View List

Recent Tweets

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.