Each year, the national Woolworths Educational Programme’s Making the Difference through Design competition, jointly sponsored by Sappi and Woolworths, challenges high school design learners in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape to engage in a meaningful experience of the exciting and competitive world of South African design. The 2011 theme, Brand-A-Band inspired a talented team of four young design learners from Stellenberg High School in the Western Cape to come up with an edgy and innovative campaign that the panel of industry-leading judges rewarded with the top honours in the competition. The Western Cape, and overall national winners, Simóne-Claire Louw, Melissa du Toit, Rochélle Joubert and Aninka Stander conceived an all-women, Victorian era-inspired rock band with the band members acting as spokespersons on gender issues that are still very much contemporary. The team, known as Dear Wrist, was highly commended both for their originality and for an impressive execution of all the marketing campaign elements. The Making the Difference through Design competition invites entries from Grade 10, 11 and 12 learners from about 400 participating schools. The competition brief is specially designed to meet all the Department of Education’s requirements for the prescribed term for Grade 10 to 12 design learners. The key concept was to enable school communities to comprehend and appreciate the vital role design plays in everyday life. As Pieter Twine, Woolworths General Manager: Loyalty & MySchool explains: “We need to shift the perception that design education is nice to have but not essential. Design is a powerful tool that can be harnessed to meet social needs and bring about change. It is not just about developing new products that make our lives easier or provide us with entertainment; good design improves quality of life and creates important social awareness.” He adds, “Last year’s music theme was intended to have a strong appeal for high school learners, but the competition brief also challenged them specifically to assign a relevant, socially conscious element to their band.” Students were urged to put their classroom learning into practice and draw on their creativity to invent and brand a music band, and then deliver a multi-faceted promotional campaign that could see their band rise to fame. They had a wide choice of campaign elements spanning traditional and new media marketing, including costume design, product design, merchandising, stage design, event management, animation, music video, website design and promotional materials. Last year, 140 teams pitched their Brand-A-Band concepts to the judges who selected 43 entries to go through to the regional expo stage. Three regional winners were then selected and entered into the national adjudication. Madelaine Fourie, from Sappi Paper and Paper Packaging, says, “This was the sixth annual Making the Difference through Design competition, and year by year, our judges note the fantastic rising of the competition standards. They were impressed by the capacity of our design students to engage in a real-to-life design competition.” The triumphant Dear Wrist team received the winning trophy, and each team member also won a smartphone. Dear Wrist’s campaign will be showcased at the 2012 Design Indaba Expo, providing an opportunity for high school learners to be integrated in the broader South African design community.