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UC communications students take out national competition titles

Elly Mackay

12 December 2022: Communications students from the University of Canberra’s Faculty of Arts and Design have shone nationally, winning advertising and public relations competitions against students from across the country.

Team ‘Armada’ – made up of students Abby Fulton, Erin McAlister, Dempsey Ward, Stacey Doyle, and Georgia Arndell were tasked with creating a marketing campaign for dating app ‘Ziinkle’ as part of the International Advertising Association (IAA) Big Idea competition.

“We got given a real client – this year that client was Ziinkle, a new dating company that has just come onto the scene – and we developed a full-service campaign for the client over the course of about seven weeks,” Ms McAlister said.

“We found – through a nationwide survey – that online dating is impersonal and that we needed to make it personal.

“Our main campaign idea was bold and daring, just like our company and our client, and our big idea was ‘make sh*t happen’ – which was risky, but it needed to cut through the noise of a polluted media landscape.”

With the team’s idea well-received by the client and judging panel, they beat runners-up Melt Creative and Fuse Agency, both from the University of Technology Sydney.

The IAA Big Idea competition gives undergraduate students the opportunity to sharpen their communication skills and talents in a real-world, career-ready experience that is critical training for the graduates of tomorrow.

Armada wasn’t the only University of Canberra team making waves in the industry – Eddison Roberts, Erin Slaven, Michelle Zietlhofer and Liam Mobbs (collectively known as Matrix Communications) represented the University in the national Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) Pitch This! Competition, competing against teams of public relations students from universities around Australia.

Ms Zietlhofer said their team created a campaign that promoted ABC Friends Victoria to a youth audience.

“Currently their membership base is an older demographic, so we created a campaign that spoke to a much younger audience,” she said.

“We looked at what the ABC meant to us, and what would speak to us, so we came up with the name ‘Nothing like the ABC’, and played on the nostalgic elements of the ABC, including the kids shows we all know and love.”

The team created a four-page proposal and a five-minute pitch video that summarised their key ideas and the overall campaign.

“There were six other teams (that we were competing against), and in the end, we scored a 90 out of 100 —the next highest team scored an 80,” Ms Zietlhofer said.

“It showed that we could really do well over our competitors. We have been runner-up the last two years, so it was good to finally get the win for UC.”

Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Design Professor Jason Bainbridge said winning two national prizes is huge for the Faculty.

“Winning prizes like this against the best of the best in Australia means a great deal, and is testament to the students, and the wonderful education they’ve received as part of these programs,” he said.

“Full credit to the students, as well as their supervisors Shara Ranasinghe and Prue Robson.”

Professor Bainbridge said their success highlighted the skills students have been able to build through the personalised and highly practical nature of the Public Relations and Marketing units.

“Both qualifications prioritise Work Integrated Learning (WIL) and other practical, real-world learning experiences, so our students are used to working on client briefs and working with industry,” he said.

“That stands them in good stead for these awards. Congratulations to both teams on their success.”