Spec Work

Johnnie Walker. “Dear Brother”.

Not to be a downer during the holidays, but the video below while quite beautiful, does have a bit of a dark twist to it. The story however, rings true to what Johnnie Walker’s brand stands for.

The ad was produced as pure spec work by two students, Daniel Titz and Dorian Lebherz, who are currently studying at  Film Academy of Baden-Württemberg. What they have produced is a hauntingly beautiful piece of cinematography that captures the Scottish landscape while weaving a story that draws you in, building up to an unexpected finally.

This is the kind of work that just goes to show how much the game has changed in the last ten years. 2 students, with no real budget, and a small crew produced an epic spot for Johnnie Walker that rivals and or beats anything a big budget agency would have produced for an outrageous amount.

In the video you see two brothers walking across the foggy terrain of Scotland’s Isle of Skye, what feels like their childhood home. As the progress a poetic voiceover tells their story and connection. The script and the voice over lead you into the narrative as the two brothers climb over rocky hills and mountains to the destination of an abandoned farmhouse. The product makes a brief appearance as the two have a drink before continuing to the edge os a cliff and the dramatic conclusion. The spot is memorable, and ties directly into the bonding that happens with family over a drink, at the outcome of a stressful event. Powerful stuff. Great work.

This dropped on YouTube 3 days ago. It already has more than 2 million views, and with good reason.

Actors: Robin Guiver, Mathew Lewis-Carter
Voice Actor: John “Bang” Reilly

Idea: Daniel Titz & Dorian Lebherz
Director: Dorian Lebherz & Daniel Titz
Producer: Madlen Folk & Johann Valentinitsch
DoP: Jan David Günther
Editor: Raquel Caro Nunez
Visual Effects/Compositing: Daniel Titz & Dorian Lebherz
Film Music: Renée Andre Abe
Sound Design: Marvin H. Keil


It’s Time To Say “No” To Spec Work.

Since June I have been working as a contract designer and freelance designer. While the work I am producing is some of the most fulfilling I’ve done in years, there is this one annoying thing that keeps dogging me. Actually, it’s been dogging me my entire career, and I hate it. “Spec Work”. Working on spec is pure bullshit, and it seems as though the design, and advertising industry is one of the only spaces where you are basically asked to work for free to prove yourself. I quit doing spec along time ago. If a potential client asks for it, I tell them they need to go elsewhere. I’ve been called arrogant, a prima donna, stubborn, naive, ignorant, and host of other names because I refuse to do spec.

The video below from Zulu Alpha Kilo nails the absurdity of spec work. If you are in the creative field and you are being asked to do spec, I say tell them no. If we all say, no, then maybe this will stop. By the way, my favorite is the restaurant owner. He’s like the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld.