Creativity Graduates Creative

We started our own ad agency and gave ourselves placements – here’s why

By Alastair Milne & Paloma Gardiner | GUAP

September 21, 2020 | 5 min read

Alastair Milne and Paloma Gardiner graduated from Watford Ad School in July. With ad placements frozen at major agencies because of the pandemic the creative duo have struggled to find their feet. So, they’ve started their own agency and hired themselves as the placement team.

screenshot image thomas

The many personalities – and agency roles – of Alastair Milne and Paloma Gardiner

Thanks to corona, things have become pretty bleak for young creatives looking for a job (and to be honest, all young people everywhere).

We were excited about our future job prospects nine months ago. However, when things went a bit crazy, everything that we had been working towards was suddenly, immediately halted.

We graduated as a creative team from Tony Cullingham’s Watford Ad School in July 2020 (aka, the eye of the corona storm), armed with nothing but our portfolio and a can-do attitude.

Oh, how stupid we were just three months ago. Little did we know the fight for a job was going to be like trying to convince a crocodile to marry you while talking French – which is basically impossible because everyone knows crocodiles don’t speak French.

So here’s what we’ve done

We decided that we were fed up of getting told by the press, ad agencies, the government — and basically everyone — that we should just hunker down and wait for all this to blow over. It was more than likely that it was going to last longer than that anyway.

Turns out, it’s actually easy to tell someone to calm down and wait for six months to reapply for a job when you already have one. We couldn’t afford to do that anyway; financially or mentally. And we'd already sold most of our clothes on eBay.

So, we decided that enough was enough. If the industry couldn’t give us a job, we’d give ourselves one. And a flippin’ good one at that.

In fact, we gave ourselves every job we could’ve wanted in an advertising agency.

That’s right. We set up an entire agency called GUAP Creative Studios (standing for ‘Give Us A Placement’), registered it as a limited company, and got ready to pitch to some of the biggest clients on our street.

A side note, our new agency is NOWHERE near London. Who knew the southern Welsh border was set to become the latest epicentre of the creative industry?

Suddenly, we held every role in an advertising agency from chief creative officers all the way down to the placement team. A lifetime’s worth of experience in just two days.

We figured that if were the creative directors, we could hardly turn ourselves away from a placement.

What's next?

Since our launch on 15 September 2020, things have been going pretty well. We’ve managed to pick up some great PR and we’ve even been invited onto a podcast. Creative directors and agencies are now sliding into our DMs left, right and centre. So, this is what it feels like to go viral.

For our first campaign for our local butcher we’ve got hold of some great media space (his shop’s chalkboard) and it’s soon to be going live.

GUAP Creative Studios has even tried to headhunt creative directors from advertising giants (Nils Leonard, Danny Brooke-Taylor, want to come in for a placement?). The next goal is to be bought out by an agency. Because the industry should be quaking in their boots with the news that a hip, cool, trendy agency has just hit the streets.

Funnily enough the agency doesn’t cost much. In fact, it’s about the same price as a placement team. The only stipulation is that all eight of our employees have to come with it (just us two really).

We’re trying to impress our bosses (also us).

However, our ultimate aim is to be the first chief creative officers to get hired on placement.

A true rags to riches, then back to rags again, story.

Creativity Graduates Creative

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