In October 2018, Swinburne Advertising lecturer David Reid presented an opportunity to be involved in an international advertising challenge known as Ad Venture, hosted by the European Association of Communication Agencies (EACA).
Media and Communications students Stephanie Bobik, Daniel Vesel, Isabelle Oehler and I joined forces to create Team Swinburne. Together, we worked over the summer holidays on our entry, and while we didn’t receive credit towards our degrees, we more than made up for it in valuable experience and, eventually, a trip to Paris!
Tackling gendered marketing
The Ad Venture competition required us to respond to a brief by Let Toys Be Toys, an organisation that raises awareness of gendered marketing by calling out department stores, toy packaging and encouraging non-gendered play.
The brief asked us to help spread the message beyond the UK to the rest of the Europe, while keeping in consideration budget, timeline and Let Toys Be Toys’ current campaign efforts.
Our approach and campaign
As part of our research, our academic mentor David introduced us to people in the industry who mentored us along the way. Our thanks therefore goes to Alex Wood from BWM Dentsu, Benjamin Mann and Nic Molyneux from whiteGREY, and Rachel Kertes from UM Media who helped us with strategy, creative and media respectively.
What stuck with us was that parents don’t have a lot of time. Even their use of media was sometimes limited to children’s television and their mobile phones. When shopping, parents often buy whatever is easiest and fall victim to the ‘girl’s toys’ and ‘boys’ toys’ signage. We therefore decided to create a tool to educate parents about the benefits of toys, rather than how they are marketed.
Introducing ‘Play and Grow - See Toys Differently’.
Play and Grow is a concept for a free, educational online platform which draws on the eight fundamental skills toys develop in a child.
Parents would be able to look up the skills certain toys develop in children, search toys by skill category, and see where they could buy the toys.
Parents could also create a virtual toy box by making a profile to get a holistic view of the skills their child is developing in their play and which they could develop further.
Parents could create a virtual toolbox with toys designed to suit their child's development.
This would be carried over into point of sale (POS) advertising by putting rating tags for each toy in toy aisles, funded by partnering with department stores as a corporate social responsibility project.
A Christmas publicity stunt was also suggested, which involved wrapping all the toys in the store and leaving only the Play and Grow rating tag as a means of differentiation. The aim being to get parents to stop and think. Shoppers’ reactions would be filmed and uploaded to social media and covered by news. Social media pledges to ‘See toys differently this Christmas’ would be shared by both parents and endorsed by social media influencers.
Our answer to the brief was a scalable and versatile solution, more than just another tokenistic communications campaign.
A chance to present in Paris
In April 2019, we were ecstatic to find out that we had placed in the top 10 campaigns from around the world. Already, we were excited to be the only Australian team represented in the top ten, and only a couple of weeks later it was announced we were finalists, along with students from France and the UK.
We were invited to Paris to pitch our idea and so, with two weeks’ notice and amazing support from Swinburne, off we went on an amazing adventure. We stayed in Paris for about a week, preparing, rehearsing and managing to get a little bit of sightseeing in.
Team Swinburne placed in the top three of the Ad Venture competition.
The presentation was held at Sup de Pub INSEEC School of Communication On the day, we all dressed up and confidently pitched our concept to the judges, which included EACA board members, art directors and copywriters from around Europe, Team Eden and Team VIS, and a representative from Let Toys Be Toys.
Presenting in front of the top names in advertising was an amazing and beneficial experience that we hope other Swinburne students will get in the future. Our congratulations go to Team Eden from Sup de Pub for winning the pitch and to our fellow finalists Team VIS from the UK. It was an honour to be named in the top three of the competition.
What we’ve learnt
We strongly encourage all students, regardless of their discipline at Swinburne, to get involved where you can. You never know where it might take you.
Enter awards, competitions, undertake volunteer projects, there’s no better way to get your work - and name - out into the industry! As a team we learnt strategic thinking, working creatively in a team, responding to feedback, perseverance and determination to work through barriers, presentation skills and networking. Paris was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we can’t thank EACA, Swinburne, and particularly our academic mentor David Reid, enough for the opportunity to compete in the Ad Venture competition.