The Axis Google Student Challenge

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AUCKLAND, Today: Each year the Comms Council and Google runs 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 in March 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 to “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 year, things have been made a little different with the whole challenge being completed over Google Meets in the middle of level 4 lockdown. From initial submissions, feedback sessions, judging and shortlisting had all been done virtually. 

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

Nina East said: “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, and orchestrated by their tutors, Daniel Fastnedge (AUT) and Kate Humphries (MDS).

Fastnedge said “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 winner will be announced at this year’s virtual Axis Awards Show next Thursday.”.

The AUT team made up of CJ Stoffberg and Cass Lindsay, both interns at Bright Sunday and DDB respectively. They 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 Colenso BBDO, who were shortlisted for two campaigns – one for Hell’s Pizza and one for Breast Cancer Foundation NZ.

The Comms Council’s James Wotton said: “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 eight 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.”

Cassandra Lindsay is an AUT grad, people-person, film-enthusiast, and aspiring copywriter.

“Currently I’m interning at DDB Aotearoa, and I love being in the industry and creating,” she said. This Google Student Axis brief was a deliciously broad opportunity to innovate with tech and create something that could make a real difference.

“We wanted to ensure that we used Google tech in a new, unique way that would make a meaningful impact on people’s lives. This nomination for our NZ Blood X Google Play concept is a huge honour and I couldn’t be prouder.

CJ Stoffberg said: “I’m a junior art director. I love being creative and expressing myself through art and design, especially in advertising. Besides advertising, I’m big film and television buff — my common ice breaker is asking “what’s your favourite tv show.”

Bella Rākete (Ngāti Hinemutu, Ngāti Tautahi) said: “I’m a retired fairy, fine arts graduate who is passionate about creating work that comes from an indigenous perspective, utilising whatever platforms or mediums I can get my hands on to tell our stories and the realities of te ao Māori.”

Sam Taunton-Clark said: “I’m a graphic design grad with a major in ski instructing and a minor in pop culture discourse. I got into advertising to show the Cadbury Eyebrow kids I can wiggle ‘em better, and solve the world’s problems while I’m at it.”

  • The winner will be announced at this year’s virtual Axis Awards Show next Thursday 17 March at 2pm on

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