Social isolation is a greater threat to public health than obesity, the focus of social researcher Hugh Mackay’s address on Australia Day 2019, and the challenging question I set my Macleay College Creative Process students to respond to via a Design Thinking workshop.
Three weeks later, here they are pitching creative concepts to Chief Creative Officer Toby Pickford, and Mike Zivkovic, a Senior Art Director at Ogilvy Health, generous supporters of our emerging creatives.
You see, the questions we ask Macleay students are big, scaffolded by a learning experience that supports enquiry and investigation. Small class sizes allow us to know our students by name not number, and partner with industry greats like Ogilvy Health for real world experiences and project-based feedback.
Julieann and her class listen intently to Ogilvy's presentation on ‘a day in the life' of working in a contemporary agency.
Year after year, I’ve seen the same old assignment tasks churned out by the latest crop of uni graduates as an employer. In contrast, at Macleay College where I’ve been teaching Creative Process for over a decade, we update content and write new assessment tasks every semester. The learning and delivery simply can’t afford to stand still with the pace of change we’re experiencing.
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In their final assignment, students engage in Design Thinking, a creative process highly-suited to designing for social and behavioural change. Previously we have responded to questions around reducing violence against women and children; reducing the shark cull in WA; encouraging eligible Australians to donate blood; and in April this year designed communications to lower meat consumption for environmental benefit – four months before this initiative was announced in the August 2019 United Nations climate science report.
Advertising class visits Ogilvy Health for a class excursion.
Common to all questions, the students learn the importance of research, enquiry and empathy. As Einstein wrote, “If I had an hour to solve a problem I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.” Conducting interviews, creating mind maps and empathy maps, each student develops a deep understanding of the problem and the user, and is cognitively primed to ideate, prototype and test. They learn to focus on human values and experiences, become comfortable being uncomfortable, experiment and test, and experience the challenges and benefits of collaboration.
Ogilvy Health are a valued partner to Macleay and of course experts in responding to big questions – their specialised health-driven team anticipate, embrace and drive change every day. Toby and Mike shared the back stories to outstanding campaigns such as “Stefan, Stool Expert” for Coloxyl and we were particularly interested in the use and application of insights derived from behavioural science.
In the Creative Process unit, we practice techniques to move from ‘stuck’ to ‘flow’, and learn the value of creative discipline. We explore the activities and tools that support sustainable creative output, not merely ‘Big C” creative break-throughs and those rare ‘light-bulb’ moments.
Our first ideas are usually predicable, obvious and perhaps ordinary. They’re often common and don’t represent new or remarkable thinking. Part of the creative process is to get them out and down on paper so we can dig deeper, provide options and ultimately create more innovative solutions. Process-led and research-informed, the experience can be summed up in the adage, “the harder I work, the more inspired I become!”
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The Design Thinking question proposed to students was, how might we address the worldwide epidemic of loneliness and disconnection between humans?. The Big Idea pitched by the winning student team involved a metaphor of the loneliness of outer space and the psychological need we all have for connection and a sense of belonging on earth. Triangulated research informed their creative work, providing a keen understanding of the multiple factors associated with loneliness and isolation, and the challenges associated with making connection.
The #reachout campaign developed by Macleay Advertising Students was created to address the contemporary paradox of both isolation and technology.
The resulting ‘#reachout’ campaign grew from an interviewee insight that “the quickest way to get someone to ‘take off their mask around you’ is for you to take off your own mask first.” Addressing the contemporary paradox of both greater connection and isolation, they designed a sharable Instagram filter and sensor-activated interactive billboards. Using technology as a portal, the user is guided to develop a friendship outside digital media, providing an opportunity to connect on a local and worldwide scale.
This is the level of thinking we aim to foster in every cohort. If they can approach a question like this, and confidently present their response to industry in just 12 weeks, they’re well prepared to join organisations like Ogilvy Health on completion of their course.
Advertising and Digital Media at Macleay College
Every product, service, organisation and social cause needs talented people to create effective strategic communications to get their message to their audience.
- Macleay College’s Advertising and Media courses teach students how to develop and manage creative campaigns across a range of job roles and mediums from print, to TV, radio, podcasting, online, digital and social media.
- Macleay College’s Digital Media courses train students to create content such as digital photos, online videos, digital marketing campaigns, social media projects, interactive websites and mobile apps for a range of for a range of digital and social media platforms.