M&C Saatchi’s Mandie van der Merwe named 2020 national and NSW AWARD School head

AWARD School has announced its 2020 heads, including M&C Saatchi’s executive creative director, Mandie van der Merwe, as the new national and NSW School head.

Van der Merwe joins Host/Havas’ Sydney creative director, Josie Burns, who was in the role last year, and takes over from Karen Ferry, who was the School’s national head since August 2017. Additionally, Cummins & Partners’ Chris Ellis has been named as the Victoria School head, joined by Jess Wheeler, associate creative director at Fenton Stephens, who was appointed last year. Ellis’ predecessor was Sarah McGregor.

AWARD School’s 2020 heads

M&C Saatchi’s chief creative officer, and AWARD chair, Cam Blackley, welcomed both van der Merwe and Ellis.

“Mandie’s breadth of experience and the recognition she enjoys in Australia and internationally are truly impressive. She is a huge talent in our industry and along with my fellow AWARD Committee members I’m thrilled to have her as the new AWARD School National Co-Head alongside the brilliant Josie,” Blackley said.

“Likewise we warmly welcome Chris as the new Victoria School Head. With his incredible enthusiasm he’ll undoubtedly make an enormous contribution to AWARD School. Both Mandie and Chris are joining AWARD School at an extremely exciting time for our organisation.”

Blackley explained that the past year has been significant for AWARD School, and 2020 has more in store.

“Last year we were proud to inaugurate the AWARD School Indigenous Scholarship initiative, while we also introduced our regional program for AWARD School students in Victoria and the Northern Territory; this will be further rolled out nationally as part of our commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion in our industry,” he said.

Van der Merwe has 15 years’ industry experience across three continents and with clients like Fox Sports, Nando’s, Tourism New Zealand, David Jones, and Mini.

“It’s a real privilege to be taking over from Karen in such a key role, and I’m sincerely honoured,” she said.

“There’s no denying that AWARD School has been hugely important in kickstarting the careers of the ‘who’s who’ in Australian advertising and I’m looking forward to helping continue that tradition.”

Ellis, meanwhile, has worked on accounts including Jeep, Heinz, Specsavers and Movember, at agencies such as Proximity and TBWA before joining Cummins & Partners. Since starting at Cummins, he’s helped grow the agency from 30 to 150 people, with more than 25 pitch wins, a statement said.

“There’s never been a more exciting time to enter this industry,” Ellis added.

“As the idea of ‘advertising’ shifts, the opportunity to help cultivate the minds set to redefine it is seriously thrilling. I want to acknowledge the cracking job Sarah McGregor has done in building the relevance of AWARD School over the past three years. They’re big stilettos to fill.”

The full list of AWARD School state heads for 2020 is:

National/NSW school heads:
Josie Burns, Creative Director, Host/Havas Sydney
Mandie van der Merwe, Executive Creative Director, M&C Saatchi (newly appointed School Head)

VIC school heads:
Jess Wheeler, Associate Creative Director & Partner, Fenton Stephens
Chris Ellis, Creative Director, Cummins&Partners (newly appointed School Head)

WA school head:
Rikki Burns, Creative Director, Meerkats

QLD school head:
Benjamin Davis, Executive Creative Director, McCann Queensland

SA and NT school head:
Nick Brz, Creative Director, NATION Creative


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