The Mumbrella Awards – something to get stressed about

It is now 16 years since I felt the first exquisite stress of organising an industry awards event.

In 1996, standing backstage before giving a welcome speech to 1300 doctors was one of the most stressful five minutes of my life. I physically shook. Having got through it, the next year I got cocky, and did the whole thing without notes.

Since then, I’ve been involved in six awards events for doctors, two for British media agencies, launched one for the Middle East ad industry and I helped lead the first three years of the B&T Awards.

But the most stressful hour of my life came when we presented the Mumbrella Awards for the first time back in 2009. For idiotic reasons I now forget, it struck me that a good way to do it was as a live video stream, with no autocue and only a mariachi band to fill any awkward silence. The highly edited video below of OMD winning the media agency of the year category makes it look a lot slicker than it actually was.

There are a fair few changes this year.

(View the call for entries PDF here)

First, we’ve combined the Mumbrella Awards with those run by our sister title Encore magazine.

Second, we’ve widened the level of industry involvement in the judging, including appointing a chairman of our juries. I’m glad to announce that this will be Mark Buckman, chief marketing officer of Telstra.

The judging will be a two-step shortlisting and final round process. One innovation for creative agency of the year is that the jury will visit the finalist agencies in person which is, I believe, a first for this market.

Our jury will mainly be drawn from the ranks of marketers.

In an industry that is crowded with awards, it is important that any awards are not only meaningful to win, but have a point of difference.

I believe we’re going to do that. There are several categories that are new – not only to the Mumbrella Awards but to the local industry.

We’ve tried to create some categories that reflect the qualities that all of the best industry players will aspire to. And some of these categories will see challenges beyond the traditional agency scene – from the likes of media owners and marketing teams.

One new category is our award for bravery – following on from the ChangeOneThing project at Mumbrella360, this is intended to challenge the culture of conservatism and to recognise risk taking.

Another is for company culture. We also specifically have categories for best use of data, for innovation and for insight.

And of course we do also have agency of the year categories, media team and media brand categories, and recognition for marketing tream of the year.

Another difference this time round, will be that the winner of ad of the year will genuinely be able to boast that they have made Australia’s favourite ad. After our expert panel shortlists the entries, they will go out to rigorous market research to reveal the public’s choice as Australia’s favourite ad.

One thing I have picked up over the years is that I can guarantee there will always be controversies.

But I can also guarantee that it will be a fair fight, and we’ll work hard to help our jury get to the best.

The winners will be announced at a dinner in Sydney on September 13.

I hope to see you there. You’ll find me trembling backstage.

Tim Burrowes


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