How To Impress Elon Musk With Your Unofficial Tesla Commercial

Recent college grads get the innovative automaker’s attention with a creative spec ad.

As far as spec ads go, this might be the dream scenario. A small production company started by recent college grads creates an ad for a brand it would like to do work for–brand responds by showcasing the ad on its Twitter feed, then brand CEO tweets his love for it, too. The only thing missing from this is retroactive buy-in from the advertiser (and a Cannes Lion).


Obviously that last one hasn’t happened, but Everdream Pictures managed to pull of the rest with its unofficial spot for Tesla called “Modern Spaceship.” Forget the battery, the handling and design details–through the eyes of a kid, the ad focuses on how the car sparks the imagination.

Car ads and kids are a proven combo, but where most use humor to get the message across, rare is the spot that swings for the fences with earnest wonderment.

Not only was it enough to get Telsa’s attention, but CEO and co-founder Elon Musk’s, as well. Maybe it was the space theme that tugged the heartstrings of the SpaceX founder, or perhaps it was the overall optimism that captured the spirit of the innovative start-up. Either way, it probably just earned a nomination for the spec ad hall of fame.

Everdream co-CEO James Khabushani graduated from USC in December 2013 and chief creative RJ Collins graduated from Chapman University in 2012. Company co-founder Joe Sill, who graduated from Chapman in 2013, co-directed the spot with Andreas Attai. The directors say the spot was shot in one 12-hour day last September in Alamo, California, with the use of a family friend’s home and Model S. The 15-person crew consisted entirely of film school colleagues. “We chose to focus our thoughts on Tesla’s Model S because we had an appreciation for both the vehicle and the company alike,” says Sill. “They had also publicly avoided advertising which to us, was an obvious opportunity to take a shot at uncharted territory.”

Collins hopes the attention the spot is getting will help get his company noticed, as well as it’s philosophy that great content doesn’t have to come at great cost. “We didn’t grow up in a generation where we saw multi-million dollar commercial budgets,” says Collins. “We grew up with iPhones in our hands and the ability to create just about anything we could imagine. It still seems crazy to us that a car commercial typically costs millions of dollars, when we could re-create the exact commercial for fractions of that.”

About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.