Picture this: it’s a crisp winter day in London, with temperatures well below freezing. A large group of people in matching green jogging suits stand paralyzed. They’re playing a favorite childhood game, “Red Light, Green Light.” Yet this is no ordinary game. Some of the poses last for 45 minutes. The whole affair demands 7.5 hours of remaining mostly motionless under blindingly bright flood lights, enduring the cold.
This is an episode of Netflix’s hit reality show, Squid Game: The Challenge. The program will draw over 90,000 worldwide applications and claim a position as the top show on Netflix globally. Part of its success stems from the viral news concerning the grueling conditions.
That day, Louisa Warwick was one of the few contestants to cross the finish line and thereby preserve her future on the show. A lifelong competitor, overcoming challenges is part of Warwick’s life purpose – which is why she applied for the show. Yet even as her depleted, nearly-frostbitten body thawed out with the joy of her achievement, she immediately set her sights on another goal: business growth.
Though her odds of winning the Squid Game: The Challenge prize were only 1 in 456, Warwick joined the show with the idea that she could leverage it to create massive career opportunities. As the founder of Inferno Agency, a talent management company, her work has centered around helping people by showcasing their talents and boosting their public profiles. The structure of the reality show allowed her to synthesize her two passions: entrepreneurship and competition.
“By competing on Squid Game: The Challenge, I was placed in an environment where there were no cell phones, no windows, and no concept of time,” said Warwick in an exclusive interview with me. “Those of us who survived ‘Red Light, Green Light’ quickly formed a strong sense of community and camaraderie. I was able to spend hours and hours just talking to the other participants without the distractions of the outside world or cell phones. I could build relationships and trust.”
Immediately following her elimination from the show, Warwick established a Squid Game WhatsApp group for contestants who had advanced beyond episode one. This gateway allowed her to maintain an ongoing connection with participants, providing a unique advantage that other talent agents lacked.
“Integral to the dynamic between a talent manager or publicist and their client is the element of trust,” Warwick says. “The establishment of a robust relationship, deeply rooted in trust, stands as a cornerstone of professional collaboration in my line of work.”
As a result of these close relationships with the cast, Warwick was able to secure multiple endorsement deals and garner press coverage for the participants she represented even before the show aired. She signed over 60 Squid Game: The Challenge contestants to Cameo, an app where celebrities can send personalized video messages to fans.
Following the show’s broadcast, a Reddit thread gained viral traction, linking numerous Squid Game: The Challenge cast members to Warwick’s Inferno Agency. Astute fans adeptly discerned that Inferno was, in fact, under the ownership of none other than contestant Louisa Warwick. The result? A staggering 650% increase in her company website traffic, a 480% surge in social media engagement with her properties, and a 30% rise in sales for her businesses.
Warwick moved to New York City at the age of 19, during which time she signed as a model with Elite Model Management and Wilhelmina. After graduating from New York University, she wasted no time in founding her first company — Social Acceleration Group, a marketing, advertising, and PR agency. She saw the industry as ripe for disruption, and was determined to deliver her services in a fast, friendly, and fair way. “Traditional PR demands sky-high retainers and is known for sometimes slow turnaround times,” she explains.
Post-pandemic, Warwick saw another industry ripe for disruption – the talent agency business. Having been booked as talent herself as a model, she knew that the same principles that drove her success in Social Acceleration Group would help her succeed with Inferno. Additionally, many of her previous clients were a clear fit for such an agency. Over the years, she has represented talent from iconic shows such as Selling Sunset, The Bachelor and Too Hot to Handle.
Now, as the internet takes notice of Warwick’s company and the show continues to top the charts on Netflix, she asks, “In the end, who truly won the Squid Game challenge?”