Special and Bonds team up to give next-gen talent their big break in 2023 Capstone Challenge

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Special and Bonds team up to give next-gen talent their big break in 2023 Capstone Challenge

Special Australia and client Bonds have teamed up to challenge final year advertising and marketing students on both sides of he Tasman to respond to a real-world brief for a career-making prize after being named industry partners for this year’s Advertising Capstone Challenge.


The 2023 iteration takes on an international flavour, with Auckland University of Technology joining Australian universities Swinburne University of Technology, Western Sydney University and University of the Sunshine Coast in taking up the challenge.

Special and Bonds will join forces to set a live brief, challenging teams of undergraduate students to develop an innovative and strategic campaign in response. Bonds will step the students through a real world business problem, provide products to immerse them in the business, and be available to answer any questions from those taking up the challenge.

Finalists will be chosen to pitch their campaign solutions to representatives from Special and Bonds – with Special offering a two-pronged prize, including a coveted internship at the agency and an ongoing mentorship with senior industry leaders for winning students.

The Special internships will see winning team members follow agency leaders in the business area of their choice – including from strategy, business management, production or creative – and be offered meetings with leaders from all departments to gain a holistic view of the agency landscape.

In addition, students will be directly linked to a senior leader from Special in their preferred department as part of an enduring mentorship that will extend beyond the internship timeframe, to help them navigate the early years of their career.

The challenge’s authentic, real world-based learning helps equips graduating talent of tomorrow with vital knowledge and skills necessary for today’s complex, constantly-evolving business environment, and provides a foot in the door to the industry through opportunities to network and work with agency and marketing leaders.

“Capstone offers students a legitimate industry experience. We wanted to follow suit and reward the winners with genuine support as they enter the industry. A lot of the Special crew have had the benefit of a trajectory-defining mentor—we hope that we can play that role for these aspiring ad-land folk,” says Ryan Fitzgerald, ECD, Special Australia.

Says Bonds Marketing Manager Kedda Ghazarian: “We’re big fans of supporting the next generation of advertising and marketing talent at Bonds, so we couldn’t be more excited to help this year’s group take a close look at the work we do by sharing our world with them.

“The Advertising Capstone Challenge presents a unique opportunity for University students studying advertising across Australasia to engage with industry at a high level where not only can they take creative and strategic risks, but they also build a competitive mindset, whilst seeking to impress senior advertisers, and marketeers with their campaign proposals.”

“We’re so excited this year to be working with Bonds Australia, and Special Group Australia on such an enthralling challenge for the brand,” says David Reid, Swinburne Lecturer.

Students in this year’s challenge will be given the all-important brief in August with finalists pitching their campaign solutions to Special and Bonds in October.

More than 700 students in 116 teams have participated, with 20 industry internships offered to winners from among 90 national finalists since the first challenge commenced in 2016.

Pictured above from L to R: David Reid (Swinburne Lecturer), Sarah Raine (MD Special Melbourne), Ryan Fitzgerald (ECD Special Australia) and Bec Stambanis (CSO & Partner Special Australia).