April 29th, 2009
Placements are the pits, say commenters at Scamp and Gordon Comstock. But if you think it’s tough for talent to break into the UK industry, you should watch Placement Island, the brainchild of Malaysian tiger agency Pumani-18.
The hugely popular reality show sees dozens of keen young teams dumped on a remote island where they must literally fight for briefs. As in a real agency, they have to be tough to survive. The island has plenty of latte machines and fussball tables but food is scarce – and in addition to Pentel signwriters, every team receives a weapon to attack their rivals with.
At time of posting, the island’s ‘Top Team’ is Li and Gok, who hide out in coastal caves with their crossbows. “It’s brilliant to have a cave to work in,” they say. “At night, one of us always stays up to keep the fire going and guard our portfolio.”
Sometimes, for a change of scenery, the team stroll along the beach with a frappe: “Getting out of the cave for a few hours can really help your thinking when you get stuck on a tough brief,” says Li, “but once we were just on the verge of a big idea when an enemy art director shot Gok in the ankle with a poison dart. He’s been scared to push ideas into other media ever since.”
To increase the challenge even further, bored middleweight creatives from the agency’s mainland HQ have taken to flying over in helicopters, strafing the island with machine guns. The violence pauses only when flamboyant bitch creative director Jackie Hu makes a rare visit to lecture the survivors about creativity.
For juniors in the UK, watching Placement Island may be a comfort, but they face a battle, too. Increasingly, the only way to get a placement in London is to first do a placement placement, where a placement team does unpaid work experience with another placement team, warming the toilet seat and pressing T-shirts for them like boarding school ‘fags’. And when the placement placement placement teams start queueing up to lick the placement placement teams’ boots, we’ll know that advertising is a glamour industry once more.