Tara Ford, Cindy Gallop, Russell Howcroft & Ant White to judge Nine’s State of Originality

Nine has named an all-star judging panel for its new State of Originality challenge for brands and creatives, a competition that $1 million in advertising inventory across Nine’s assets given away.

The 2021 State of Originality will launch in June, overseen by a judging panel of leading advertising industry minds, to decide upon the winning commercial. To be eligible, marketers and brands need only to have their ad air within the three-game period of the NRL’s State of Origin 2021.

Former DDB Sydney, now The Monkeys’ chief creative officer, Tara Ford, will be joined on the panel by Ant White, who left his role as CCO at CHE Proximity to start Howatson + White in late 2020.

Former adman and 3AW breakfast host Russell Howcroft is also on board, as is former CEO of BBH and founder of MakeLoveNotPorn, Cindy Gallop.

The panel’s votes will make up 80% of the final count, with 20% coming from audience votes cast via the Wide World of Sports website.

When the initiative was announced at Nine’s Upfronts, State of Originality was billed as a way to help make State of Origin a Super Bowl for Aussie advertisers. That mantra continued in the judges announcement.

Nine’s director of Powered, Liana Dubois said: “America’s Super Bowl ad breaks really took off with Apple’s blockbuster ‘1984’ ad. Australia now has the opportunity to create its own moment in time for brilliant advertising to shine. 

“2020 challenged us all and yet we play on. This is Nine’s way of now encouraging and rewarding big, bold creativity – the way we differentiate brands. The State of Origin is our Super Bowl moment, where Australia comes for the game and stays for your ads. 

“The winning work will not only capture the hearts and minds of millions of Australians but also have one of the great launchpads for a campaign that any brand could hope for.” 

The judges shared their thoughts on the importance of initiatives such as this for championing creative in Australia.

Ford, who is also a board member of the Advertising Council of Australia, said: “This is going to be super-interesting. I hope to see some truly bold and entertaining work, fitting of such a unique challenge.”

White added that it is a good time for Aussie advertising. “Clients and brands seem to have come out of the last 12 months with a newfound and much needed ambition to stand out again. Stand for something. Entertain people again. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes out at this year’s games.”

Howcroft said it’s important for Nine to invest in “big ideas” like State of Originality. “There’s nothing more important than big ideas for Nine to invest in. An initiative like this can only be brilliant for the creative and client world. I am so excited to be involved.”

Gallop added that it’s a great opportunity for State of Origin and advertisers. “I’m thrilled to be judging the State of Originality, because I see a huge opportunity for State of Origin to match the US Super Bowl in an advertising context – because of, literally, originality.

“Australia has the opportunity to set the agenda for a new post-pandemic standard of innovative, disruptive creativity in a world and an advertising industry where everything’s changed, and I can’t wait to see the entries that will define the new world order of creativity.”


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