Awards NewsPress Release

Media Design School students take home metals at MAD Stars in Busan

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND — Media Design School has achieved an outstanding milestone on the global stage by becoming the most awarded institution at MAD Stars, an international competition recognizing creative advertising talent. This remarkable achievement underscores the exceptional accomplishments of local students, making New Zealand proud and positioning the country at the forefront of the global creative advertising arena.

“Gold Awards in the Non-Professional Category at MAD STARS are like the Grand Prix awards of this category because they’re as rare as hen’s teeth. Last year there were only two awarded globally. This year there was only one. And that one shiny star, we’re very pleased to announce, was awarded to one of our MDS teams, Reece O’Gorman, and Lola Luo,” said Kate Humphries, Programme Director for AdSchool at MDS.

Reece O’Gorman and Lola Luo‘s project “Linked Out” tackles ageism in the workforce head-on with a social social-experiment-turned-Netflix-documentary. As well as winning this year’s solo Gold Award in the Integrated Stars category, “Linked Out” also won a Crystal Award in the Strategy Stars category.


The pair also won other awards for different projects. Reese together with James Sandham scored a Crystal Award in the Integrated Stars category for “eBay Weddings, an idea that encourages younger people to cancel the wedding industry by migrating their wedding spend to secondhand purchases on eBay; whilst Lola and Lita Vatuvei, picked up a Crystal Award in the Strategy Stars category for “Where Books Sing,” an idea for the launch of Spotify Audio Books that celebrate all the books that have inspired songwriters.

Students David Gillard and Anja Pienaar followed up their D&AD Pencil win earlier this year with three more wins for the same idea, “Take a Bloody Break” at MAD STARS, earning a Silver MAD STARS award in Data Insights Stars, a Bronze in the Design Stars and a Crystal in Viral Video Stars. The idea, for Heinz, encourages gamers to fake their character’s deaths with ketchup in order to take a break during online multiplayer games. David and Anja also scored a Crystal in Integrated Stars for “Living History” in which museums celebrate the 25th anniversary of Google Search, by exploring the zeitgeist of historical moments through every question ever asked of Google.

Frey McMahon-Jones and Joe Fuando won a Bronze Award in Integrated Stars and a Crystal Award in Pivot Stars for “Hidden Passages.”[It’s] an idea we’re not going to chat about here because we’re currently chatting to an international agency about it,” said Kate.

Lucy Yeaji Lim and Rose Heron earned a Crystal award in the Integrated Stars Category for DisneyUsPlus, a tool on Disney+ that uses AI to regenerate the animation and voice of main characters in a Disney classic by selecting their pronouns. The pair also won an award each for two very different ideas. Lucy, together with George Adams, won a Crystal in the Design Stars category for Heinz Gas Breakz, giving gamers a break-in game by playing with the detail that baked beans give you gas. While Rose, together with Frederic Martini, won a Crystal in Film Stars for Transitus, an idea that draws attention to abortion being a medical issue for women through what the medical industry loves – Latin.

Three MDS teams won Crystal awards in Innovation Stars: Cullen Wilson and Olivia Walker with “Korowai,” which compares the feathers of native birds that cloak Māori in art against AI mimicry; Photogaiging by Lita and George which uses AI to help maintain engaging conversations between dementia patients and their families; and Google GARage Project by Jack Becroft and Herman Ulberg, that uses AR and actual garage doors to transfer street art onto Garage Project beer cans.

Mibella Villafana and Vince Martins won a Crystal in the Interactive Stars Category with PlayStation Spores which uses high-scoring gamers to guide the mass spread of fire-loving fungi spores that can regenerate land decimated by wildfires.

James, Frederic, and Felix Ngahere won a Crystal in the SDG (Sustainability Development Goals) category for “G-Shock on Call,” an idea that uses the unbreakable G-Shock Watch to help out first responders who aren’t feeling so unbreakable in the wake of wave after wave of climate emergencies.

Kate added, “We’re really pleased to have won so many awards this year that we hope to help to fulfill the aim of MAD STARS to award ideas that combine creativity with cutting-edge technology to come up with solutions that contribute to humankind.

“We couldn’t have achieved any of these awards without the invaluable feedback from the industry. So, a very big and heartfelt shout-out to the industry guests who came in to critique specific projects: Kaz Maurice O’Leary, Innovation Director; Michael Tam, Global Design Director at IBM iX; Yvonne Leong, Experience & Business Director at IBM iX NZ; Lorenz Perry, Freelance Art Director currently at The Monkeys; and MDS’s own Industry Fellow, the inestimable Andy Blood. A massive thank you also to Tess Saxby for stepping so swiftly into the role of Art Direction tutor for three months.

“And to all our industry panelists from New Zealand, Australia, and Germany, thank you for your invaluable feedback and creative direction which totally put all of the ideas above on steroids including Andy Wyeth from Serviceplan Cologne; Sylvia Humphries from Thinkerbell Melbourne; Guy Trengrove from DDB Aotearoa; Rob Cook from Cheil NZ; Brad Stratton from Dentsu Creative; Rob Longuet from Dentsu Creative; Jack Close and Zac Hawkins from ColensoBBDO. Thank you one and all, we really couldn’t have done it without you.”

adobo Magazine is an official media partner of MAD STARS 2023.

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