On Spec, You Can Inject Truth And Humor At Will

The following spec spot for Trader Joe’s was shot on a Treo by Carl’s Fine Films in San Francisco.

[via The Ad Class at Cal State, Fullerton]

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. 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. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Why can’t real ads be this fun?
    To me, that’s the real question. How come so much ‘on spec’ work has such fun and energy to it that doesn’t exist in ‘on pay’ work.

  2. @James:
    Ah, the eternal question.
    The short answer: most spec work is better because there are fewer (if any) people between the creator(s) and the end product. Thus, the creative idea comes to life in the form its originator intended.
    Contrast that with the way things work in most agencies, from the team of Planners “writing” the brief, to Account Service, to multi-layered Creative Departments, to focus groups and external Research vendors—all weighing in repeatedly throughout the process, each of them having a vested interest in prolonging the discussion. Suddenly, what began as a trip from point A to point B is transformed into a meandering journey from points A-1, A-2 and A-3 to Point B-4 or B-5 or perhaps B-6, depending on what the Qualitative results tell us. And of course, since this is now a multi-layered, multi-step process it’s also exceedingly expensive, thus there is even more pressure on the client to “deliver results” which (you guessed it) leads them to add in a few more precautionary steps before finally producing what has become a lifeless, unsatisfying stew of poorly conveyed product info and target audience lifestyle tidbits that only registers via the force of sheer repitition. Creating advertising this way is expensive, slow and highly inefficient, but until more clients demand a better way (smarter, cheaper and yes, even more fun) I’m afraid we’ll be seeing the awful results for years to come. The good news: the solution (trusting your instincts, or finding a Creative Team you trust) is, and has always been, right here in front of us. So who knows? Maybe the current economic climate will yield a more intelligent, more streamlined approach? A new way of doing things. Simple, fun, clear commercials and ads delivered twice as fast for a third of the price.
    Cue Steve Martin on SNL as Theodoric of York: