Google NZ-backed project produces teen marketers

  • Didge
  • July 3, 2014
  • Skye Wishart
Google NZ-backed project produces teen marketers

New Zealand marketers this is for you – the Web Rangers programme has provided you a pool of marketing talent for the years to come.

Supported by Google NZ, Netsafe and Y&R, the programme enlisted 14-17 years olds from around the country to tackle the issue of cyberbullying and promote safer and smarter internet use – because who better to come up with a marketing campaign than the demographic itself?

The 140 web rangers came together for workshops in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch during the Easter break, to learn creative and marketing skills, how to build a public awareness campaign and online safety. Each group then had six weeks to create a campaign, whether it was a video, an interactive classroom session, a game, or a website. Fifty campaigns were received from around the country, and the top three (below) are off to Sydney July 17 for two days to present their campaigns to Google execs.

16-year-old Hayley Smith, a student at Auckland’s Te Kura, set up an experiment to show how people might react to hurtful comments thrown at them in the street. It has a great ending, testified by the close to 100,000 views on YouTube, and it's also received a bit of media attention, earning a slot on Seven Sharp. 

Angus Slade of Wellington, 14, created an animation and song “If life Was Like the Web” and spent more than 100 hours drawing, learning animation and producing a song that results in something quite insightful on the inanities of how we operate online. The animation takes us through the narcissistic nature of Facebook, the impossibility of millions of followers following a YouTube star down the street, picnic-ers Instagramming every single thing they eat, and trolls firing out random degrading comments from the safety of a darkened room.

Tip Varnakomal, 17, was Christchurch’s winner, creating a compliment generator and website that could counter the negative comments he saw as rife online. The website also has lots of tips on how to deal with bullying, such as not responding to the bully, blocking them and telling a trusted adult.

To promote Web Ranger sign-up initially, Hawkes Bay teen YouTube star Jamie Curry was brought on board. In a video, she stresses the importance of recognising cyberbullying. “We call them haters, you know, people say ‘haters gonna hate’, but you’re not a hater, you’re a cyberbully,” drawing on her own experience and giving advice to viewers on how to cope with it.

Sean Lyons from Netsafe says: "You should never underestimate how talented teenagers are, and how powerful their messages can be because of their understanding of how to use the web to reach a wide audience."

As to whether the teen marketing workshops will continue, a spokesperson for the project says: "NetSafe and Google are yet to have a discussion about making this an ongoing campaign, but were treating this year's campaign as a pilot and if it went well, make the decision about future years from there. But it's safe to say both organisations have been really thrilled by how it went."

The complete list of winning Web Rangers campaigns is as follows:

Auckland

1st: Hayley Smith, 16

“Social Experiment, Queen Street” - video

2nd: Akanesi Wake, 16

“Bullying Free Cyberland” - Spoken Word video

3rd: Maggy Liu, 16

“Define Words Not People” - SAT vocabulary with cyberbullying take

Wellington

1st: Angus Slade, 14

“If life was like the web” - Animated song

Facebook page

Behind the Scenes

2nd: Justin Myburgh, 15

Cyberbullying rap song and campaign website, posters - CyberSafety.co.nz

3rd: Hayley van Waas, 17

“Making a World of a Difference” - Video and school presentation

Christchurch

1st: Tip Varnakomala, 17

“Project Positive” - Compliment generator and website

2nd: Abby Withington, 16

Daring teens to be more positive online - Do the Dare:

Facebook

Youtube

3rd: Nikki Wheeler, 16

Stopping rumours from spreading - Don’t Spread It

Facebook

Youtube

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