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2020 AWARD School Heads Announced

AWARD School is delighted to announce Mandie van der Merwe, Executive Creative Director at M&C Saatchi Sydney, as the new National and NSW School Head for 2020, and Chris Ellis, Creative Director at Cummins&Partners, as the new Victoria School Head.

Mandie joins Josie Burns, Host/Havas Sydney Creative Director, who took up the National and NSW School Head role last year. Mandie takes the reins from Karen Ferry, who had been National School Head since August 2017.

Chris is the 2020 Victoria School Head, alongside Jess Wheeler, Associate Creative Director and Partner at Fenton Stephens, who was appointed last year. Chris takes over from Sarah McGregor.

AWARD Chair Cam Blackley welcomed Mandie and Chris into the fold of AWARD School Heads.

“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 along side the brilliant Josie,” Cam 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,” Cam added.

“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.”

Over the past 15 years, Mandie has worked on three continents and been recognised over 100 times at local and international award shows, including Cannes, D&AD, One Show, AWARD, the Loeries and the Australian Effies. After graduating from art school, Mandie says that, much to the chagrin of her purist art friends, she “sold her soul” to advertising. But, over time, she’s bought it back. The payment has been made, painstakingly, with an ideal that “we can change business and social problems with great ideas and the care to execute them beautifully”. It is this belief that has guided her work on Fox Sports, Nando’s, Tourism New Zealand, David Jones, MINI and Go Gentle Australia.

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

Chris Ellis is an experienced Creative Director behind original, memorable and influential work for many of Australia’s best-loved brands including Jeep, Heinz, Specsavers and Movember, featured in The Huffington Post, The Guardian, AdWeek and Contagious Magazine. With experience at Proximity and TBWA, he joined Cummins&Partners. In seven years, Chris has helped grow the agency from 30 to 150 people with over 25 pitch wins, a deep knowledge of local pizzas menus, and consecutive Australian Agency of the Year titles. Chris’ work has been recognised by his mother and international award juries with a Clio Grand Prix for sports advertising, D&AD, Cannes Lions, One Show, LIA, Spikes, AWARD, Effies. He has also judged New York Festivals. Chris’ creative approach focuses on finding social insight to not just create ads, but contribute to culture.

Chris said: “There’s never been a more exciting time to enter this industry. 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 AWARD School State Heads for 2020 are:

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 & NT SCHOOL HEAD
Nick Brz, Creative Director, NATION Creative


Registrations for the AWARD School Application Workshop are now open. To book click here.

The one-day workshop, running in Sydney (16 November), Perth (22 November) and Melbourne (23 November) consists of 4 modules, including practice briefs and insider tips on how to make your 2020 application pop.