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These Graduates Took Agency TikTok Handles Hostage, And Won’t Give Them Back Until They Get a Job

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LONDON—It can’t be easy being a graduate right now with ad agencies on both sides of the pond hemorraghing talent as they try to stem the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

But two semi-anonymous British creatives who graduated in August have found a novel and unusual way to get the attention of the U.K’s best ad agencies: They’ve registered TikTok accounts in all of their names, and say they will hold them hostage until each one offers them a placement.

The duo, who for the stunt masked up and called themselves Very Serious Partners, set up handles for agencies including Mother London, BBH London, AMV BBDO and Lucky Generals. They’ve tweeted them to let them know about the username squatting directly, and have also targeted them with paid ads.

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They’ve given the agencies 72 hours to get in touch with an offer, in which case they’ll hand over the handles.

If not, then they plan to start uploading content to the accounts until they force their hand—which will likely leave agencies regretting not setting up their own TikTok account sooner.

The men behind the masks are 27-year-old Londoners Alex Morris and Oliver Finel (originally from Paris). The pair told Adweek the CEO of one major agency has already been in touch.

According to TikTok’s terms and conditions, accounts that purport to belong to someone else are not allowed. But parody and fan accounts are, so long as it is clear there is no official affiliation. TikTok accounts that pose “in a confusing or deceptive manner” may be suspended, the rules state.

Ruffling feathers

Finel and Morris said while they had felt a little apprehensive launching the hijacking stunt, but such a drastic attention-grabbing act was necessary to help them get noticed in such a tough market. While the duo have been lucky to secure placements in the past, in seeking more industry experience they found a lot of shut doors and messages about hiring freezes.

“We thought we needed to do something to shake it up a bit [so] I signed up for loads of them as a way to get us noticed,” said Morris.

“We wanted to make a bit of noise and force their hand a bit,” he added. “We’re relatively so cheap as creative labour. Hopefully this ruffles a few feathers and gets us noticed.”

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