National Geographic, Mazda Reveal Winner of Assignment: Inspiration Photography Competition

Sam Tippetts of Boerne, Texas, was crowned on a television special

Sam Tippetts is the next Mazda Content Partner and National Geographic storyteller Sam Tippetts/National Geographic/Mazda

National Geographic and Mazda teamed up on photography competition Assignment: Inspiration last October and November to invite emerging photographers to share photos that tell their most unique, uplifting stories and make them feel alive. On Thursday night, a winner was crowned.

Sam Tippetts of Boerne, Texas, was named the winner and next great National Geographic storyteller on a special that aired on the National Geographic television network Thursday night.

Beth Mancuso and Nina Mayer Ritchie were the other two finalists.

Brad Audet, who was named chief marketing officer for North American operations at Mazda earlier this week, said in an interview, “The ambition behind this was to partner and align with somebody who had shared values with Mazda. National Geographic’s editorial and visual storytelling very much has the same essence around artistry and emotionally moving people. We saw an opportunity to help illustrate some of what was core to Mazda. Mazda at its heart is about trying to enable people to be their best.”

There were over 2.6 million entries from the National Geographic’s Your Shot social community.

The three finalists embarked on a series of photography quests inspired by an exploration of Hiroshima, Japan, that iconic National Geographic photographer and Assignment: Inspiration mentor David Guttenfelder experienced with Mazda, learning about the city’s heritage and diving into the automaker’s design values.

As the next Mazda Content Partner and National Geographic storyteller, Tippetts received an official assignment from National Geographic Travel, and his original work will be published on its digital platforms.

National Geographic Travel executive editor George Stone said in a statement, “Photography is the heart of National Geographic and an essential part of our 132-year legacy of telling stories that matter. Seeing the next generation of visual storytellers use their talents to inspire people to care more about the planet inspires us. We are excited to see where Sam takes his assignment, and we look forward to sharing the results on our National Geographic Travel platforms.”

Assignment: Inspiration was produced through National Geographic CreativeWorks, the branded content studio for National Geographic and part of Disney CreativeWorks, along with Radley Studios.

Mazda said its partnership with National Geographic reached over 225 million of the publisher’s social followers in the U.S.

The automaker added that it teamed up with National Geographic on the competition as part of its Power of Potential platform, which honors individuals making a difference, realizing their potential and ultimately inspiring others.

Audet said in a statement, “We are inspired by the work created by all of the finalists, and we would like to congratulate Sam for winning Assignment: Inspiration. Throughout the quests, his devotion to visual storytelling resonated with us. Mazda’s designers and engineers approach their work in the same vein: as artisans who seek mastery of their skills. They diligently transfer their passion into each project to create a vehicle that evokes a feeling.” David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.