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West Australian Oli Nicholson has been named AWARD School 2020 National Top Student at an Australia-wide virtual ceremony held on Facebook Live on Wednesday night (12 August).

West Australian Oli Nicholson has been named AWARD School 2020 National Top Student at an Australia-wide virtual ceremony held on Facebook Live on Wednesday night (12 August).

Oli emerged as the winner ahead of more than 190 students in a year marked by major challenges for all AWARD School participants as a result of the COVID-19 situation. Her tutors were Liz Hammond (Rare Perth) and Richard Berney (303 MullenLowe), under the guidance of WA AWARD School Head Rikki Burns.

The announcement follows the AWARD School Graduation Night on 29 July when Nicholson was named WA State Winner alongside her fellow state top students Lauren Elliott (NSW), Declan Harrick (VIC), Meg Jenkins (QLD) and Cameron Roberts (SA), all of whose folios are now available to view.

Oli can now look forward to an informal virtual meeting that most emerging talents can only dream of, with one of the world’s legendary creatives, Jeff Goodby, inviting her to a Zoom catch-up with himself and AWARD Chair Cam Blackley following her win.

Goodby, Co-Chairman of Goodby Silverstein & Partners, extended the invitation via video during Wednesday night’s ceremony, saying: “I’d love to get together with the winner to do a Zoom call with you and Cam and talk about work and life after AWARD School. I am such a big fan of AWARD School. It’s an amazing accomplishment to get through this whole thing and be as great as you are.”

As National Top Student Oli was chosen from among the state winners by the 2020 Super Jury made up of leading creatives from Australia and around the world.

Members of the 2020 Super Jury were:

1. Brigid Alkema: Executive Creative Director, Clemenger BBDO Wellington
2. Cam Blackley: Chief Creative Officer, M&C Saatchi Australia and AWARD Chair
3. Steve Coll: Head of Facebook Creative Shop ANZ
4. Claudia Cristovao: Head of Brand Studio APAC, Google
5. John McKelvey: Founder, Chief Creative Officer, Mirimar Creative Group
6. Ant Keogh: Chief Creative Officer, The Monkeys Melbourne
7. Vida Cornelious: Executive Creative Director, TBrand Studio, The New York Times
8. Feh Tarty: Creative Director, Facebook New York
9. Tara Ford: Chief Creative Officer, DDB

Commenting on the winning portfolio, the judges variously described Oli’s folio as ‘extremely strong’, ‘my favourite book’ and ‘standout’. Feh Tarty said: “Great visualization of ideas, clearly illustrated, and quick to understand for an audience on the move with little attention for anything.”

Vida Cornelious said: “I really love this book. All of the work is very thoughtful and smart.” Ant Keogh commented: “This folio stands out to me because there is a thread of simplicity and clever thinking through most of the ideas. There were really strong standout pieces, and across the board nothing below average.” Steve Coll described Nicholson’s work as ‘simple and smart’.

“This portfolio demonstrates smart thinking that always gets to the benefit of the products in a clear and original way,” he said. AWARD Chair and Super Jury member Cam Blackley congratulated Nicholson saying: “It was neck and neck at the finish but Oli’s consistently great thinking shone through to grab the ultimate prize.

That’s an amazing effort in what has been one of the highest standards AWARD School has seen in a while. Everyone at AWARD joins me in sending her many congratulations,” he said. “I also want to repeat my thanks to all this year’s school heads, tutors and speakers who did such an incredible job in the face of really challenging circumstances with AWARD School having to be completely re-purposed as an online program in 2020 because of COVID.”

Oli’s win for WA reinforces the truly national scope of AWARD School, with last year’s winner coming from Victoria, Queensland in 2018 and NSW in 2017.

Will it be South Australia’s turn in 2021?

AWARD and The Communications Council would like to thank AWARD School principal sponsor Facebook Australia for its ongoing support of the next wave of Australia’s creative talent. Alexandra Sloane,

Director of Marketing, Australia & New Zealand, Facebook, said: “So many of Australia’s incredibly talented creatives are brought together by the AWARD School community – a huge congratulations to all of this year’s winners from the Facebook family. We look forward to seeing their careers develop and to be a force for positive change through ideas that connect people.”

See a full list of 2020 AWARD School Heads and Tutors