Nine Entertainment came up with a simple concept for a competition; they’d give away one million dollars in advertising to the best, most creative advert submitted.

The catchy title they gave the competition was ‘State of Originality’, obviously piggybacking on the Nine Entertainment involvement with the like-named National Rugby League Series. 

The person behind the competition is Liana Dubois, Director of Powered, Nine’s marketing solutions division. Powered aims to help advertisers stand out from the crowd by grabbing hold of big marketing moments that are available across Nine’s suite of assets – TV, digital, publishing and radio.

“Nine works very closely with all of our partner advertisers, the creative agencies and their media agencies, generally speaking, particularly when it comes to pulling off big creative ideas that ultimately make advertising famous,” said Dubois.

Creativity competition

State of Originality was something new for the team, but they wanted to stay neutral in the process and let the creatives and their clients express themselves in any way they wanted. Nine weren’t going to change, alter or reject any entrant.

“So look at the realities of creative, it can be quite a subjective topic and often be that kind of notion of beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” said Dubois. “At the end of the day, all ads are produced based on a consumer insight, the different product or category that the ad is being made for. The different brand of all brands have their own unique attitudes and all of those sorts of things,” Dubois proffered.

Nine revealed the competition entrants over three rounds. In total, 16 brands entered the competition, and a panel of four industry experts will get to choose the winner. Dubois was able to get Tara Ford, CCO of The Monkeys; Ant White, CCO of newly minted agency Howatson+White; former adman, Gruen panellist and 3AW Breakfast co-host Russel Howcroft; and globally acclaimed disruptor, former CEO of BBH, founder of MakeLoveNotPorn and all-round advertising legend, Cindy Gallop.

Additionally, Nine allowed the Australian public to participate, with 20 per cent of the voting going to votes cast via the Wide World of Sports website

Advertising philosophies

To add their own flair over the series, the Powered team did some creative of their own by working with sports retailer Rebel. Dubois said, “It was quite a quite a collaborative process to produce a television commercial starring some Nine Entertainment talent. It was James Bryce and Aaron Mullen talking about what sport means to them, because sport means different things to different people.”

Which-50 asked Dubois to elaborate on what works for the creative minds at agencies and with the public; we bring up the McDonald’s “End of Night NSW” ad put together by agency DDB / OMD. 

“Creatives are looking for resonating moments. They’re looking for content in context, I suppose. And so I think to your point, that’s exactly what McDonald’s have done, because they’re trying to get the person watching the ad to be able to see themselves in that ad. And ultimately for that to be able to influence how they think, feel and do as a consequence of saying that that’s the whole point of advertising, that it influences your behavior. So as a human being, if you can see yourself in in the advertising, you can relate to that shared experience, then that’s that’s going to be incredibly impactful for you,” said Dubois

Nine fully expects that the eventual winner will not restrict how they spend the millions dollars to just TV advertising. Using the language of the media buying pros, Dubois says the advertisers and their creatives will want to develop a cross-channel schedule that delivers on reach and frequency goals. 

Future developments

No conversation about advertising today can be left off without discussing the future developments in the industry. 

Dubois is enthusiastic when she speaks about what Nine and Powered have available to them.

“We have a lot of and product tech that runs right across our business, across all of our channels, television, television, audio, radio, digital, probably less so in print terms. Print is a very tactile medium. It’s less about tech, obviously, in that space,” said Dubois. 

Nine Entertainment is making greater use of social media across all its video tech. They’re not discounting some old tech, like QR codes. Dubois is keen to point out how the pandemic has reinvigorated and expanded the QR medium, making something old, new again. 

Another example the pair comes up with is the virtual reality experience that car dealers have embraced to keep sales moving.

‘There’s been quite a few challenges for the [auto] category as well because now the physicality of test driving cars has been kind of put under pressure in the last 12 to 18 months, due to lockdowns. And for that category, we know that somebody’s test driving a car, somebody actually sitting inside the car after they’ve seen the ad is a kind of a critical point on the purchase journey. You are more likely to purchase the car after you’ve seen the ad and you’ve actually sat in the thing. But with lockdowns and not being able to get to dealerships to get in the cars, there’s been an increased sort of digital and virtual experience that’s being created for auto manufacturers, for example, where you virtually get into the car and have like a 360-degree virtual experience that makes you feel like you’re in the car,” said Dubois.

Finally, we asked what we can expect from Nine Entertainment in the future, but Dubois shies away at giving us a scoop, obviously cognisant of being gazumped by competitors. 

You can’t blame Which-50 for trying.  


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