Marketing Smackdown kicks off the 2019 UCE Disrupt Challenge series with a bang!

11 March 2019

UCE disrupt is a series of intense two-day challenges that provide students the opportunity to test their creative thinking, teamwork and presentation skills. The 2019 series kicked off this weekend with the Marketing Smackdown!

  • Marketing Smackdown team

    Teams make the most of expert advice on their marketing ideas during the mentoring session.

Marketing Smackdown panel 2019

The judging panel of Carl Davidson, Nicole Botting and Lucie Ozanne listening to one of the team’s three-minute pitches.

The 2019 UCE disrupt Challenge Series got off to a great start this weekend with the Marketing Smackdown. This year’s Smackdown had record-breaking levels of participation, with 52 students, split over 11 teams, getting involved. We welcomed a diverse array of participants, studying at undergraduate and postgraduate level from both Canterbury and Lincoln Universities. Students came from a range of academic areas, including Engineering, Arts, Law, Tourism Management and Commerce!

Two questions were presented to the participants, who could select, in their teams, which to tackle. The first option was to consider how to get Christchurch residents to re-engage with the central city and increase foot traffic and expenditure within the CBD. The other issue posed was how to profile Christchurch as a destination during the winter months, and attract more than just skiers and snowboarders to the city and surrounding region.

The Smackdown was all about fast-paced creativity, with the teams taking their ideas to a pitch-ready proposal in just one weekend. UCE has recently moved to the newly reopened Rehua building, which provided a great base for the challenge, with plenty of space for creativity to flourish.

On Saturday, the teams were given time to establish a concept and receive advice from expert mentors from marketing and business backgrounds. The focus switched on Sunday to polishing pitches, with the challenge culminating in each team’s 3 minute presentation, followed by a short question and answer session with the judges. The judging panel of Carl Davidson, market research expert from Research First, UC Associate Professor Lucie Ozanne, and Nicole Botting, Destination Marketing Manager at ChristchurchNZ, provided a wealth of marketing experience.

A huge range of ideas were presented, and the high standard of presentations made choosing prize winners difficult. Judge Carl Davidson said he was “blown away with the quality and diligence of the students… they could teach professional marketers a thing or two!”.

UCE congratulates the three winning teams:

First place: Team Otatauhi’s idea was inspired by Valpariso - a city in Chile that they had visited on the ECON228 study tour. Valpariso had, much like Christchurch, been devastated by an earthquake, and had developed a colourful road filled with street art to encourage locals to re-engage with the city. The team suggested a similar concept for Christchurch - The Red and Black Road -  which would lead visitors and locals around the city’s landmarks. The road would be filled with street art, so the it would not only provide access to exciting destinations, but a beautiful journey along the way.

Second place: ‘The Crew’ proposed the creation of a social enterprise called Next Gen to run community hubs which provide a space in the CBD targeted towards people aged 18 to 25. The hubs would host regular weekly events and provide a space for young people to meet new people and hang out. The increased level of youth engagement within the city would enhance the atmosphere of the CBD, resulting in more people, of all ages, engaging with central Christchurch.

Third place: Third place went to Happy Street, an idea to help improve engagement in Christchurch city by young adults aged between 20 and 29.  Their proposal was to convert Oxford Terrace into a ‘Happy Street’, filled with food and activities, which would help pull people from their target demographic back into the city. The judges were impressed by Happy Street’s creative guerilla marketing strategy, which included floating huge smiley faces down the Avon River to promote the new development.

Each of the winning teams won cash prizes, and two lucky students received tickets to Marketing South - the Marketing Association’s Christchurch-based conference. As well as these tangible prizes, all the participants took away much more confidence in their teamwork, presentation and creative thinking skills - with participant Kane Stewart saying that the Marketing Smackdown is “a place where you really learn and improve on the soft skills that will help you outside of University."

UCE would like to thank our mentors and judges, The UC Business School, The Marketing Association, ChristchurchNZ and Research First for their support of the challenge.


UCE provides a dedicated, student-focused space where innovation can flourish, stimulating the development of entrepreneurs through a combination of research, teaching and community engagement.

If you are interested in participating in a future UCE disrupt challenge, find out more here, register for our Future of Digital Travel Challenge, or contact Hannah Rhodes at