EXCLUSIVE | Prathap Suthan: Spec ads only showcase a lemming mind

Thursday, May 16, 2024
Prathap Suthan, CCO of Bang In the Middle, on an unstoppable urge afflicting young creative executives

A lot of youngsters in my industry have a new love affair.

The unstoppable urge to do spec ads. Or create their own ads for iconic global brands.

Totally mimicking their looks, language, aesthetics, tone, font, etc. As close as to cloning a genuine brand ad.

The idea is to copy existing work, yet do something fresh and new, essentially to showcase case talent and passion.

Some of them are cool, but none of them can never be original.

A relentless festival of wannabe Elvis Presleys. With some thought given to the length of his sideburns.

Most spec ads for giants like The Economist, Porsche, or Volkswagen are about as relevant as a typewriter in a tweetstorm.

You can’t pillow-fight porcupines with balloons.

These brands are legendary, and their creds have been built on years of advertising refinement.

The recipes have been written down and improved across decades. All you can do is perhaps add an extra peppercorn.

That’s all the room you get to work with. You can’t quite scratch your back while inside a straitjacket.

Your spec ad for an established brand might turn out to be poor or average. In fact, it just might even violate it.

Sorry. But I got to be brutal.

Investing your nights in doing spec ads isn’t a great idea. Because readymade moulds are available. Plus previous work.

Anyone with a sensible advertising mind can play potter.

You just have to get the clay, pour it in, and you’ll have a passable spec ad.

The thinking has already been done for those brands. The hard work is over. Guides are in place.

You are only adding to unwanted clutter and endorsing your lemming mind.

These brands aren’t screaming to be rescued from the clutches of mediocrity. They already have more swagger than a penguin in a tuxedo.

Chances are you aren’t going to get a call from Madison Avenue. And I haven’t heard of any brand sending chocolates to a spec ad creative.

So focusing on them might not be the wisest use of your talent. Instead, show the world your kung fu.

If you’re desperate to invest your nights to get kudos and acclaim, write spec ads for brands that need CPR.

Unleash your hidden Ogilvy on lesser-known brands, or invent your own.

This will also let you showcase your strategic thinking, planning, and creative chops – the holy trinity of an advertising black belt.

Remember the X Beer campaign from Neil French? The legit campaign for a fictional beer brand to underline and reinforce the power of print advertising.

That’s the kind of work you should get your spec mind to work on and earn true applause. Otherwise, it’s pointless.

Why publicly wear a red nose doing one more spec ad? And deliver the 735th pimple this week on the same brand?

Come on. You’ve better things to do.