Vega Pretoria students embark on academic adventure

Ten teams of students from Vega School, a brand of the Independent Institute of Education (The IIE), embarked on an academic adventure of a lifetime as they participated in the Vega Brand Challenge.

The Brand Challenge is an annual Vega event in which teams of second and third year, and Honours students, come together to form agencies and create concepts for actual clients such as ABSA, Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital and Mr Price to name but a few. The initiative is run at all four of Vega’s campuses across South Africa and lasts for five weeks.

According to Darren Meltz, a Vega Pretoria Copywriting Navigator (lecturer) and Head of the Brand Challenge, the purpose of the Challenge is to afford students the opportunity to form simulated consultancy firms that undertake real-life industry briefs from external organisations.

Education at Vega is as much about ‘doing’ as ‘learning’ and it has consequently hosted its Brand Challenge for over a decade. The annual event is a much anticipated one with students clamouring to partake and get some real client experience utilising what they have learnt, even if it is in a simulated environment.

“The programme presents a practical 360° view of a complex brand situation, grouping students into multi-disciplinary teams in order to identify the key brand challenges. Taking real-life industry briefs from four different external organisations, the teams conduct a full brand analysis and extensive research to determine key issues impacting the brands. The students identify key stakeholders in order to develop and execute original and meaningful communications campaigns for the specific client,” says Meltz.

“The standard of work delivered from the students is so high that several of these clients return year after year to partake in the Vega Brand Challenges and some actually implement the concepts presented by the students,” adds Meltz.

Some of the brands participating in this year’s Challenge include: CliffCentral (together with Vega Johannesburg); Rage (together with Vega Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban) Music Festival; BestMed and Avbob.

This is, undoubtedly, a hugely rewarding initiative that mirrors the actual business reality of the industry by having students form their own groups and devise solutions to tackle current business problems.

“We are very proud of all of our students, and look forward to some spectacular solutions emanating from this year’s Brand Challenge. We are especially impressed with Team Tenacity that worked on the brand BestMed. This team fully invested themselves in the brief from strategy to execution and this was evident in the creative solution presented to client. Their understanding of the brand problem earned them a standing ovation from their client,” continues Meltz.

As a result of the networks established during the challenge, many of the clients subsequently approach Vega students to offer them the opportunity to complete their required internships.

“The importance of incorporating activities such as the Brand Challenge into the students’ curriculum can be summed up beautifully in the words of Samuel Smiles – ‘Practical wisdom is only to be learned in the school of experience’. Brand Challenge is the ideal platform in which students are able to consolidate their classroom learnings in an environment that gives them a true taste of what the working world will expect of them,” explains Meltz.

Vega Pretoria third-year Multimedia student, Bernard Cloete (23) describes the experience in the following terms: “Brand Challenge is an unexplainable five-week experience where not only is your acquired theoretical knowledge tested, but your understanding of yourself. I personally learned so much from my peers. I would describe Brand Challenge is a five-week summary of our industry and a quick peek into your future.”

Fourth-year Honours student, Haneke Basson (22) concludes: “Brand Challenge is what gives Vega students our edge. It is an invaluable experience that teaches you about real client work, like only real client work can.”

Vega is proud to produce students who are clearly the next generation of innovative and creative brand thinkers and we look forward to seeing what ground-breaking and forward thinking campaigns they produce in the near future.

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