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Axis Google Student Challenge finalists announced

Each year the Comms Council and Google run a competition for students as part of the Axis Awards to support and encourage new creative talent in New Zealand. The winning entry is announced at the Axis Awards ceremony, and the team receives a gold Axis trophy. All shortlisted finalists (teams of 2) and their tutors also win tickets to attend the Axis Awards ceremony.

The award is sponsored by Google and the brief is inspired by students having to create for Google real estate. Google and the tutors present the brief, with background on the real estate that the students could consider. The brief this year was “Pick a brand that is currently a client of a NZ ad agency and come up with an idea that uses Google technology and/real estate to express your chosen brand’s purpose in an innovative way.”

This time round, things were made a little tricky with the whole challenge being completed over Google Meets in the middle of lockdown. From initial submissions and feedback sessions to judging and shortlisting, it all had to be done virtually.

The 2022 Judging Panel was comprised of Haydn Kerr (DDB Aotearoa), Courtney Dow (DDB Aotearoa), Nina East (Ogilvy), Chris Schofield (Pitchblack Partners), and Josh Reiri-Allen (Google).

East comments: “I was super impressed with calibre of ideas this year. All big creative thoughts coming from sound insights, with Google tech and innovation at their heart. Great to see a mix of playful ideas and ideas that do good in the world, for a diverse mix of brands. Congratulations to all involved.”

The three pieces of work were submitted by two teams, one from AUT and the other from Media Design School. Orchestrated by their tutors, Daniel Fastnedge (AUT) and Kate Humphries (MDS).

Fastnedge says: “The Student Axis competition was a much-needed breath of fresh air in 2021. Even as students were forced to isolate in stale, cramped flats, the opportunity to take advantage of any of Google’s platforms was an exciting opportunity which brought them together. The 2021 brief encouraged them to push for insightful and innovative ideas. Congratulations to all the finalists.”

The AUT team made up of CJ Stoffberg and Cass Lindsay, both interns at Bright Sunday and DDB respectively, were shortlisted for their campaign for NZ Blood Service ‘Gain a life’ which centred around the idea that “Virtual lives are precious to gamers, so we’ll remind them how important giving blood is by rewarding their donations with extra lives in their favourite mobile games using Google Play.”

The campaign used Google Play to notify users of a local NZ Blood event through their favourite mobile game where once they had donated, they were given a unique game code which would give them an extra life/ second chance in their game.

The MDS team made up of Bella Rākete and Sam Taunton-Clark, both creative interns at Special, were shortlisted for two campaigns – one for Hell’s Pizza and one for Breast Cancer Foundation New Zealand.

Their Hell Pizza – Hell on Earth Campaign stayed true to the disruptive nature of the brand with their idea of making Hell Pizza stores disappear from Google Maps during Halloween – so the only way you could find them (using Google WebGL Overlay and Rotation technology allows a 180-degree rotation which flips the map to reveal the locations) was in Hell itself.

Their other campaign Breast Cancer Captcha used Google’s reCAPTCHA to help educate users on how to look for the 8 signs of breast cancer instead of traffic lights. Their idea was extended with the use of Google Lens to detect signs of breast cancer in people’s own photos which could be submitted to a secure app.

“With over 45 entries from MDS and AUT and after two rigorous rounds of judging by the Google Student Axis judges, it was a major achievement by Bella and Sam to have not one but two of ideas of theirs listed in the final three to be judged by the Axis Executive judges,” adds Humphries.

The winner will be announced at this year’s virtual Axis Awards Show on March 17 at 2pm, which can be watched here.

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