Vega students thrives in Brand Union challenge

One of the biggest challenges for many graduates is getting a foot in the door in the working world. Lack of work experience is a major contributing factor and, when an opportunity presents itself, it’s sometimes a trade-off, i.e., working for free, in exchange for the opportunity to gain some experience.

In partnership with Vega School, Brand Union implemented a sustainable internship programme in 2013 that affords the students an opportunity to work on real client briefs and compete for a place in the two month, paid internship programme at the branding agency.

The Creative Union Awards (CUA) is a challenge developed to test the collaboration and skills of the strategists and creatives. It’s about breaking down the perceptions that the two disciplines need to live apart in separate phases of a job.

The Boucher Legacy was this year’s CUA client brief. Students were asked to develop an inspiring fund-raising campaign to support The Boucher Legacy’s conservation efforts, specifically focusing on Rhino conservation, education and prosecution. Students were asked to focus on corporates rather than the general public.

The brief required solid insights and a big idea, which would need to build awareness, break through the clutter and more importantly, generate funds for The Boucher Legacy. The state of donor fatigue presented a major challenge the students needed to address in the delivery.

Two winning teams were selected from 15 teams in Cape Town and 20 in Johannesburg. The groups were assessed over two rounds of presentations against challenging criteria to ensure they met the client brief, captured real, strong insight into the target audience and developed an engaging and relevant big idea to affect positive behaviour.

The 2017 winners were recently announced and awarded a cash prize; a handcrafted Brain-on-Brain trophy that will be presented at the Vega graduation ceremony next year. The winning team from Cape Town included Talya Michaels, Luke van der Spuy, Nicola Tumazos, Kim Smith, while in Johannesburg, the group included Michaela Massey and Jason Walden.

“Although the award was established to foster collaboration between strategy and creative, this year we felt that we also wanted the students to ‘use their talent for good’, and apply their creativity and strategic talents to a cause close to our hearts. It was a challenging brief: getting corporates to reach into their pockets and donate to the Boucher Rhino Legacy. Not only are there loads of causes and NGOs vying for the same wallets, but the rhino cause is getting a lot of attention and is fairly ‘done’, as important as it is. So, I was really impressed by the fresh thinking and great ideas the students managed to generate,” said Sonja Fahn, Creative Director, Brand Union Cape Town.

According to Thys de Beer, Senior Lecturer in Brand Strategy and Academic Collaborations Manager at Vega School, “The Boucher Legacy is a great example of a meaningful brand that adds real value to society; something that is core to what we stand for at Vega School. We are proud of our student teams’ high level of strategic-creative thinking, and grateful to be given the opportunity to expose our students to live industry briefs, especially when collaborating with key industry role-players like Brand Union.”

Mark Boucher, founder of The Boucher Legacy added, “I am grateful for the passion and dedication shown by the Vega teams.”

Ally Hewitt, Director at The Boucher Legacy, shared, “I found the work to be of really good quality. Innovative ideas emerged in all final six teams. I would like to encourage the students to present our case to family and friends, and to become ambassadors in the war against rhino poaching. Thank you again for your support on delivering on this brief!”

From left: Lea Stuber (Brand Union international intern), Jacqui Richards (Brand Union client service director), Sonja Fahn (Brand Union Creative Director) and Thys de Beer, Vega (Senior Lecturer. Manager: Academic Projects and Collaborations)


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