‘Thrift Media’ from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne has won the 2023 Advertising Capstone Challenge – the winning students are Sean French, Shannon Kruss, Ruby Neal and Lucy Wallbridge-Hall.
The Challenge connects students with real clients and industry partners, to provide an authentic learning experience unlike any other in Australasia.
This year was the first time a team from another country was added to the competition with Auckland University of Technology (AUT) joining Western Sydney University, the University of the Sunshine Coast alongside Swinburne. This is the third year in a row Swinburne has taken the top spot. ‘Antics’, one of the Auckland teams, consisting of Anna Bayliss, Andee Raven Kenept, Tom Maker, and Nicholas Reidy was the highly commended runner-up in their first outing in the comp.
Special Australia and client Bonds teamed up to give the students a real-world brief, centred around Bonds BCPU (Bloody Comfy Period Undies). The brief targeted people with periods aged 13-20 in the absorbent underwear category.
The successful team won a two-pronged prize – with Special providing a coveted internship at the agency and ongoing mentorship with senior industry leaders for the winners. Winning teams also receive access to 42courses, the education partner of this year’s challenge. The 42courses platform features leaders such as legendary UK creative Sir John Hegarty, who founded BBH (Bartle Bogle Hegarty).
Says Kedda Ghazarian, marketing manager for Bonds: “We’re so thrilled to be part of an initiative that nurtures the next generation. Each team tackled the brief in new and unexpected ways, and we were so impressed by the considered insights, level of creativity and powerful storytelling.”
Says David Reid, Swinburne University lecturer and winning team mentor: “It’s been an exciting capstone challenge, with a unique brief for Bonds BCPU, and increased competition for the students with eight teams making the finals. It’s wonderful to see Thrift Media secure the win with a clever, engaging, emotional pitch that highlighted the complex needs of the target in a gender diverse world.”
Says Daniel Fastnedge, Auckland University of Technology mentor: “In our debut at the competition, AUT’s Team Antics made a splash with a ‘highly commended’ finish. The challenging brief spurred lively student debates, and the industry’s input made it both fun and insightful. Teaming up with a brand that’s tuned into societal issues was a unique learning experience. Kudos to our students for their standout idea, ‘Dads first period’, which won over a dynamic panel. Learning in style!”
Says Rebecca Stambanis, CSO and partner Special Melbourne: “It was an honour to be the agency partner for this year’s Capstone Challenge. We were truly blown away by the creativity, enthusiasm and commitment shown by the students. I think the future of our industry is in very safe hands.”
Since the Capstone Challenge commenced in 2016 more than 700 students in 116 teams have participated, with 20 industry internships offered to winners from among 90 finalists. Previous competitors have pitched to clients including Cancer Institute NSW, Tourism Australia, Suzuki Australia, McDonald’s Australia, Lion Dairy, 7-Eleven and Cricket Australia.