Travel is known to open minds and broaden horizons and for Griffith business student, Shannon Baldwin, travel also sharpened her critical faculties.
A trip to South Africa – and her acute observations there – underpinned a university assignment that has just won her $1000, courtesy of AirAsia.
The 21-year-old Gold Coast double degree student was struck by the unforgiving, in-your-face style of an AIDS-awareness campaign while in Durban last year.
“It was known as the sugar daddy campaign,” she recalls. “The billboards depicted men enticing young women into cars, with the implication that if they got into the car they got AIDS.
“I found it extremely interesting on a number of levels. Firstly, it’s an issue treated with greater importance in South Africa than in Australia where AIDS would not be commonly marketed in such a way. In South Africa the campaign was driven by a different set of political and social factors.
“The use of billboards to promote the campaign was also interesting. In Australia I believe there would be restrictions on that type of confronting content and I would only expect to see advertisements like this on late night television or in niche health publications.
“I was struck by how straightforward the campaign was. The billboards literally read ‘Older Men + Young Girls = AIDS and Teen Pregnancy’. That’s pretty confronting, but wildly effective.
“They had the billboards in the more rural areas to target people in villages whose second language is often English. So they used basic words coupled with strong pictures to get their message across.”
When the capstone Marketing course required students to write a 3000-word critical reflection, the fourth year marketing and hotel management student had a forum to explore her South African experience.
Her reflections and insights caught the attention of the Griffith and AirAsia judges who selected her piece from about 400 submissions from marketing students across Griffith’s Gold Coast and Nathan campuses.
Judges said Shannon’s reflection demonstrated a broad and continual learning process, where she transferred her learning within the classroom to experiences both on and off campus through her life and academic career.
Course coordinator Mitchell Ross said the assessment task asked students to reflect on their entire academic experience inside and outside of the formal classroom.
“It’s an interesting challenge for marketing students. This kind of reflective learning builds on connecting theory with practice and moves towards a deeper level of understanding.”
“I will be graduating soon so this is a fantastic pre-graduation surprise,” she said.
Shannon hopes to work in Sydney on completion of her studies with marketing options in hotel chains among her potential job targets.
AirAsia has got involved with Griffith’s Department of Marketing in recent years, giving some guest lectures and sponsoring the critical reflection component of the capstone Marketing course.
The company has indicated an intention to extend this involvement in the future and possibly fly the winning students to AirAsia headquarters in Malaysia.