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Purpose: stay open minded.

Die Crew der Filmschaffenden mit Sparringspartner. Oben von links nach rechts Luis Sütter, Felizitas Hoffmann, Nadja Sauer. Unten Prof. Henning Patzelt, Dr. Kai Fehse
Photo: Hans-Rudolf Schulz

How do you advertise a brand that has always had a purpose? That has all the attributes of a love brand but doesn’t want to make a big deal out of it? That refuses to provide a marketing strategy, instead focusing on promoting artistic diversity? Our solution: cooperate with the University of Television and Film (Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film, HFF) in Munich. After all, we have a joint goal: to stand out from the crowd with creative ideas and a unique character.

Taking a chance: spec spots

Spec spots are fictional advertisements for existing brands. They offer those new to the film business a chance to test out their creativity and make use of the tools of the trade. These short ads are regularly produced in film schools, usually without any particular brief and without a client. For the last four years, we have been working with the HFF, allowing for the creation of three to four new Dr. Hauschka spec spots each semester. We provide products for inspiration and an invitation to innovate. There is no brief, students can feel free to give their creativity free range.

As a result, we regularly discover whole new perspectives on Dr. Hauschka as a brand, and get to see some very interesting short films. Some are in the style of a documentary, some provide social criticism, others are humorous. In the first half of 2022, the students sent an astronaut into space, celebrated motherhood, discovered sensuality in nature and determined that nature takes care of everything in the end. Their approaches were as varied as the results. When talking with a student, we were able to find out how film makers get their ideas: ‘Sometimes a plot is created based on a simple, pragmatic question. We just ask ourselves “what might cause the biggest controversy?”’

Fresh perspectives and Silver Nails

Creative brand staging, fresh product perspectives: cooperating with new talent helps brands achieve long-term success. Spec spots allow even companies steeped in tradition to be resituated in a modern context; they find themselves, all of a sudden, in line with the latest trends. That’s a new experience for a brand like Dr. Hauschka. We do a lot of good in this world, but for a long time we have been hesitant to talk about it. Our cosmetics are made from all-natural products, we invest in partnerships for raw materials across the globe and we promote organic farming worldwide. These are issues that Gen Z really cares about, but it turns out many of them have never heard of Dr. Hauschka. Until now: the spec spots are helping to change our brand image. More courage. More humour. More provocation.

Of course, the students also get something out of this cooperation. Customers are not allowed to use these spots for free; they have to purchase the film rights – which we have done in some cases. However, the primary purpose of these spots is their use as references for future employers or clients. If a student wants to break into the advertising industry after graduating, they need to be able to show at least five sample films, and spec spots really showcase their creativity and expertise. Plus, the students can submit their films for competitions and awards, and they are often successful: the latest astronaut spot, for example, was awarded a Silver Nail in the ADC Talent Competition.

Image counts

Advertising is an optional elective in the main course of study at the HFF for which students from all degree programmes can apply. Each semester, a plethora of companies apply to cooperate with the university. Not every application can or will be accepted by the chair. For example, if there are too many specifications, if expectations are too high or if there is not enough creative freedom. The fact that many of the larger ‘players’ insist on so many rules plays right into Dr. Hauschka’s hands. That’s because, as a ‘smaller’ brand, we have the freedom to be flexible. In truth, we expect one thing and one thing only from the students who work with us: an open mind.

It’s clear that students really enjoy their time studying advertising at HFF. After all, advertisements have a lot to offer that feature films don’t, such as the opportunity to really get to the point in a short amount of time. Advertisements allow room for critical statements, and those working on them can find a better work-life balance, because they only take a short time to film. And finally, one of the up-and-coming film makers we spoke to hit the nail on the head: ‘You don’t simply have to make every ad you are asked to make. You get to choose the most interesting clients.’ And we, for one, are thrilled that students at the HFF regularly choose to work with us. And we’re excited to see what they come up with next. More semesters, more spec spots, maybe even more Silver Nails...

Maximilian Bungarten, Felizitas Hoffmann
View Spec Spot