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Insights from the Jury Room: Katarina Matic

It takes an experienced eye to judge creative work, and few assemble a better jury than The Gerety Awards, a creative prize redefining the standard to which advertising is held. In a new limited series, we spotlight the creative careers of this year’s Australian Jurors, beginning with Creative Lead Katarina Matic. 

Katarina entered the industry with a Political Science degree and a goal of uniting her passion for politics and social change through the transformative power of creativity. She inspired Australians to ‘Vote Yes’ for marriage equality with a campaign that has been recognised globally for its effectiveness, ignited a national conversation around consent with her ‘50 Shades of No’ campaign, and earned a Guinness World Record for starting men’s mental health conversations with the world’s first moustache suit. She’s also a co-founder of The Aunties and co-host of the Mums on Call podcast, and has recently led Bullfrog’s Fair Advantage program to help elevate women-founded businesses. There really is no one better to kick off Mavens’ first Insights series… read on. 

How would you define excellence when it comes to creative work? 

Creative excellence is when you combine a strong human insight, with a clever or surprising idea and then you wrap it up in an execution that brilliantly shows off craft. It’s work that gives you a little bit of butterflies because it’s so exciting, or leaves you a little bit speechless because it’s so beautiful, or makes you a little bit envious because it’s so simple and smart and you wish you made it. 

These feelings and judgements sound universal to the human experience, like we can map out the exact criteria for creative excellence in an objective way. But what speaks to me and moves me won’t be the same for everyone. That’s why award shows like Gerety are so important. It recognises that historically the same type of person has been judging award shows across the globe, setting the bar for excellence based on what resonates with them. Gerety celebrates work that resonates with women and allows us as an industry to have a bar for excellence that’s based on diverse points of view. 

What’s a favourite piece of work you’ve created and why are you proud of it? 

Hijacking The Bachelor finale during the Australian marriage equality plebiscite in 2017 has been the highlight of my career so far. I’m really proud of this work because people genuinely loved it, it made people feel something and shed real tears, and it inspired people to take action in a way that made positive change in our country. It’s rare to make an ad where high profile celebrities willingly reshare it and a gofundme is created to raise money for it to go live on air again. 

Everyone involved was passionate about securing a ‘yes’ vote and gave their time and creative output pro bono to this project. From the team at Leo Burnett working overtime and around paid work within the agency, to Airbag securing and editing hours of donated footage, to Sarah Blasko and Crowded House donating the rights to their song, to Wrigley’s Chewing Gum donating their ad space during the Bachelor finale without being credited on the piece. Oh and we pulled this all off in 12 days from start to finish! 

What are you expecting to see from judging the Gerety Awards this year? 

Work that lives and breathes authenticity will be what stands out for me this year. As an industry we’ve created a noticeable and positive shift in diversity of representation in the media over the last decade. And I’d love to see us keep working towards more inclusion. True authenticity isn't just about diverse representation in creative work, it's about championing diversity within our industry. When work is crafted by voices from different backgrounds and experiences it’s palpable, you feel it. 

Authenticity is a sign that we’re heading in the right direction. It’s a sign that we’re attracting and retaining diverse talent in our agencies and that they’re empowered to put their stamp and point of view into the work. To see authenticity when judging the work will be inspiring.

What advice would you give women looking to make a name for themselves in the creative advertising industry? 

Your difference is your superpower, lean into it. There’s no better time in advertising to be capitalising on what makes you you and your point of view as a woman. We are now all very well aware of the ways diversity makes for more unique work and the positive impact that has for businesses. 

Understand what kind of name you’re wanting to make for yourself and set clear goals. Are you wanting to be known for your work? Do you want to be a thought leader? Every decision you make should be in service of your north star. 

Find an environment that recognises your value and where you feel empowered to voice your opinions. Ambition and talent is one half of the equation, having the backing and support of industry leaders around you is just as crucial. No one makes a name for themselves alone.

This interview is part of a series in collaboration with The Gerety Awards, a creative prize redefining the standard to which advertising is held and setting a benchmark for advertising and creative communications. For more jury insights from this years Awards, don’t miss the 2024 Gerety Awards Jury Insights AUNZ panel discussion on Thursday, June 13th (moderated by Mavens). RSVP here.


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