It was 2011, and the second year of our Advertising & Brand Communication course at the University for Creative Arts (UCA), Farnham. Our lecturer had encouraged everyone to do work experience and gave us a six week window in which to find somewhere willing to take a punt on us.

Now, this was five years ago… placements were rarely paid and you’d be lucky to get travel expenses. Sigh.

So we did the usual and emailed every info@ email address going.

Now Danny and I have this thing…we make on the spot decisions without one another, just in hope the other will be fine with it. (Having worked together for seven years now we’re getting pretty good at this) but this instance was the first.

So, I’m sat at home panicking about the whole placement thing, Danny was out at the student union. It was approximately 1am. Now in my state of panic I decided to email a creative director of Y&R in Auckland, I wrote some spiel about how we want to see what advertising is like on the other side of the world. And I sh*t you not, within the hour I have a reply… I wish I still had it, but it basically said “sure why not, when can you fly out?”


So, I’d basically organised to go to the other side of the world and hadn’t even told Danny yet. I didn’t expect them to say yes…. and the way he said it, was he even serious? Do we just book a flight and go right now?

So I called a very drunken Danny and broke the news to him.

Four weeks later we were on a plane. With no idea what to expect, even after confirming five times I still thought we’d turn up and they’d be like “who the heck are you?”

We arrived in Auckland and checked into our hostel. FYI the biggest test of any creative partnership is sharing a room and having to work together every. Single. Day.

If you can make it through that – you can make it through anything!

So what happened?

People were expecting us – YAY! When we turned up the office manager had our desks ready and waiting for us

  • We got to work on real-life big brands, like Air New Zealand and Microsoft
  • We quickly noticed how different the market was out there. Although we hadn’t worked in a UK office it was clear there were less restraints, less worries and people weren’t afraid to go big
  • We managed to get our first bit of live work out. Which was to brand a launch event for Microsoft 7 called TechEd
  • We went to our first ever radio recording, and met a famous woman but we’ve forgotten her name…but we promise she was a big deal
  • We met so many awesome people, and it proves how small the world of advertising is as people we work with now in London have worked with people we worked with in Auckland
  • Danny got to drive a car around Waiheke island on our only day off
  • Danny also nearly got married to the local Chinese takeaway’s daughter (that’s another story)
  • Oh yeah there was a tornado and I thought we were going to die.
    We were sat in the office and the man in front of us got a phone call from his wife to say their children’s trampoline was now on the roof of a house at the end of the street and he should probably come home. We were sent back to our hostel, where I spent all night trying to convince Danny we needed to fly home.
  • Kate & Wills got married. We watched it in the middle of the night in our tiny hostel room.

Did we see any of New Zealand?

No. Not really. But we saw Katy Perry.

We forgot that placements mean long hours, and we still had uni work to do. So we’d get back to the hostel, get out our macs and continue with our work.

But it was Danny’s birthday whilst we were away, so obviously that meant buying tickets to a Katy Perry concert and sitting so high up in the crowd we were above the lighting and the speakers. Ha.

Was it worth it?

Overall the experience was fantastic. We met some of the best creatives we’ve ever worked with and had our first real taste of the industry. Once we returned to London the fact we’d been to Auckland for a placement meant people were interested in talking to us… we finally had an IN.

So if no one’s answering you, maybe you’re knocking on the wrong doors?

Danny & Charlotte are a creative team at Dark Horses in London.