Why spec work is evil

Bestselling author Rick Warren, in a move that is almost 100% evil, employed a contest to design his new book cover.


By the time it was over, nearly 3,000 designers vied to win $5,000 and a juicy addition to their portfolio. Only one of them will get it.


The Church Marketing Sucks blog also thinks the practice isn’t the best, and says so at An Open Letter to Rick Warren about Spec Work. Their reasons are that this spec work approach exploits designers and it doesn’t create the best work.


I’ll go along with both of those. But that’s not the whole problem. The evil of that type of spec work is the way it distorts the work.


The winner of the contest will be the designer who most astutely markets to Rick Warren.


The best book cover would have been designed by someone who doesn’t give a rip what Rick Warren likes, and most astutely markets to Rick Warren’s readers.


Wrong audience means wrong product.


A good creative professional doesn’t just drop his work on your doorstep and walk away. He makes sure he’s going the right work in the first place. The best ones know how to guide their clients toward paying for not only the best spark of creative genius, but also the right strategy. When you open the job like a cattle call, the best you can hope for is cool creative. And if that’s all you’re getting, it’s not worth paying for.


That’s the real problem with what they’re doing to design Rick Warren’s book. Evil may be kind of a strong word for it. But that’s what it is.


Comments

4 responses to “Why spec work is evil”

  1. Jeff Schreifels Avatar
    Jeff Schreifels

    Jeff, I think you need to lighten up on this one. Now, if this was a direct-response project that was to produce results I can totally understand. But, it’s a stupid book cover for Rick Warren. Who cares. Book covers are supposed to make people pause when they go into a book store. You know, perhaps this contest will launch someone’s struggling career, who knows? Rick Warren…he’s not worth getting all worked up for.

  2. Jeff Schreifels Avatar
    Jeff Schreifels

    Jeff, I think you need to lighten up on this one. Now, if this was a direct-response project that was to produce results I can totally understand. But, it’s a stupid book cover for Rick Warren. Who cares. Book covers are supposed to make people pause when they go into a book store. You know, perhaps this contest will launch someone’s struggling career, who knows? Rick Warren…he’s not worth getting all worked up for.

  3. First comment on this blog! Thank you, Jeff! If I had tons of Future Fundraising Now swag, I’d send you some.

  4. First comment on this blog! Thank you, Jeff! If I had tons of Future Fundraising Now swag, I’d send you some.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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