MDS Students Win Gold at MAD STARS in Busan

In addition to winning the Gold this year, MDS also won a Silver, two Bronze and fourteen Crystal awards, making MDS once again the most awarded campus globally in this year's MAD STARS competition

MAD STARS is an international competition held in Busan, Korea, where Reece and Lola, along with their AdSchool peers earned awards competing with over 20,000 submissions from 63 countries.

“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", says Kate Humphries, programme director for AdSchool at MDS:

Reece O’Gorman and Lola Luo's project Linked Out, tackles ageism in the work force head on with a 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 with different projects too. Reese together with James Sandham scored a Crystal Award in the Integrated Stars category for eBay Weddings, an idea which encourages younger people to cancel the wedding industry by migrating their wedding spend to 2nd hand 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 celebrates all the books that have inspired songwriters.

Students David Gillard & 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. "An idea we’re not going to chat about here, because we’re currently chatting to an international agency about that idea", says 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 who 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 which 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 compare the feathers of native birds that cloak Māori in art against AI mimicry; Photogaiging by Lita Vatuvei and George Adams 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 fwon 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 wild fires.

James Sandham, Frederic Martini and Felix Ngahere won a Crystal in the SDG (Sustainability Development Goals) category for G-Shock on Call, an idea which 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.

Says Kate, “We’re really pleased to have won so many awards this year that we hope help to fulfil 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 heart-felt 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 3 months.

“And to all our industry panellists from NZ, 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 (Serviceplan Cologne) Sylvia Humphries (Thinkerbell, Melbourne); Guy Trengrove (DDB Aotearoa); Rob Cook (Cheil NZ); Brad Stratton (Dentsu Creative); Rob Longuet (Dentsu Creative); Jack Close & Zac Hawkins (ColensoBBDO). Thank you one and all, we really couldn’t have done it without you.”

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MDS Students Reece Gorman and Lola Luo win Gold at the 2023 MadStars

As a demonstration of MAD STARS support for up-and-coming talent, Reece and Lola are pictured here onstage receiving their Gold MAD STARS award surrounded by the global judges.

Reece and Lola celebrate earning a Gold at the 2023 Busan MADSTARS

Congratulations to Reece O'Gorman and Lola Luo for bringing MADSTARS Gold home to MDS all the way from Busan, Korea