Celebrating the last year in creativity, resilience and spirit, the jury for The Drum Agency Business Awards have been revealed.
The last six months have forced agencies to swiftly come to terms with a new way of doing business, and a new normality. It’s not got in the way of the industry’s creative spirit, however, and some fantastic work has been produced in that time – adding to the brilliant work done at the tail end of 2019, which The Drum Awards is set on remembering in its own right.
That’s why The Drum Awards for Agency Business is back, to show the world the outstanding work and teams from the past 12 months.
Each year, we rally a jury of accomplished experts across advertising and marketing to judge the awards.
Coming from the UK, US, Singapore, Bangladesh, France and India, this year’s jury includes industry leaders from likes of MRM, Wunderman Thompson, Rothco, Spark Foundry, Lucky Generals, The Brooklyn Brothers, MediaCom UK, Ogilvy, The Unmistakables, Spotify, Brown and Browner, Macomm/Dentsu and MediaAxis/Carat, Media Monks, Rebel Owl, KWT Global, BBDO Asia and more.
The deadline for the awards is Friday 4 September. Make sure you submit your work for a chance to be recognised on a global stage.
Check out a rundown of nineteen of our judges below:
The Elephant Room
co-founder and head of talent
Mears is from Birmingham and is the co-founder of The Elephant Room. She has previously assisted on supporting brands such as Adidas and Britvic to find talent for global commercials whilst very early in her career. Mears was the face of the official UK campaign by LinkedIn in 2018. She has a real passion to be a voice and a relatable representation of what she hopes the industry can become in the near future. She is former brand manager for GUAP magazine and runs a community platform called Girls, Lets talk.
I’m a true believer that as you build a business you are building a culture. Something you believe in and value. It has to be real for you and those who exists in it. The awards this year I want to see honesty and openness but also some curiosity. I’ve decided to participate because I think that The Drum can allow me to enter a new space of exploration and meet others who are likeminded who wish to discover the same thing.
founder and chief executive officer
Romagnoli has over 25 years of experience working in digital and has helped over 200 businesses – from international companies to start-ups – navigate their marketing approach. He excels in defining online strategies and concepts for exclusive and luxury brands through digital marketing, especially for superyachts, aviation, real estate, luxury travel, hotels, beauty and fashion. In addition, Romagnoli frequently gives talks at conferences like BrightonSEO and Digital Marketing World Forum and contributes to platforms like The Drum and Forbes Monaco. He is also an adjunct professor of digital marketing at the International University of Monaco.
It’s an honour to be a judge at this year’s Agency Business Awards. For the past 20 years, I’ve run my own agency – building it from the ground up into a successful business. The main thing I’ve learnt is the importance of investment in people, good workplace culture and creative cross-team working. This enables better performance, innovation and impact. This is what I’m looking out for when judging.
chief executive officer
Lee worked at Saatchi & Saatchi and BBH, before arriving at Leo Burnett where she worked on McDonald’s, Homebase and COI before becoming marketing director and latterly managing director. She left the big agency world fascinated by the world of small, ambitious start ups with a different offering and perspective on the world. Lee was Gravity Road’s first managing director, helping to grow and structure the business as it became a respected independent agency. She then worked at Sunshine. Mears had a disastrous 21 days at Y&R before it merged with VML, but emerged to become chief executive officer of Lucky Generals.
As an industry we, quite rightly, spend a huge amount of time celebrating the output but often it’s the entrepreneurial approach to business change that results in the innovative work that we celebrate. I’m really looking forward to looking under the bonnet and seeing businesses that have pivoted their offering, changed their ways of working and made a real difference, not just surface level change.
chief executive officer and founder
Kenna is chief executive officer and founder of Brand Advance. He is also the director of diversity and inclusion at Outvertising, the advertising industry lobbying group and as a mixed race, out gay father – is a strong advocate for diversity and representation within the media and advertising industry as a member of the WFA Diversity Advisory Board and is also on the advisory board for the V&A Museums. An award winning entrepreneur having received the Innovator of the Year Award at the second annual Ex-Forces in Business Awards and was recently named on EMPower’s 100 Ethnic Minority Executives 2020.
This year has seen many changes, both in the world on a pandemic scale (literally) through to truly global movements such as BLM, and political dehumanisation of entire communities (Poland: LGBT Free Zones) through all this consumers and brands have been looking harder and deeper at themselves, their ethos and purpose. It’s these standards that I will be bringing to my judging – what’s the brand purpose? Is this campaign inclusive? Or is it stereotyping? The biggest question I will ask each submission is: ’why?’
group chief executive officer
Over the years Johnson has been instrumental in building a successful global business at creative communications agency Leagas Delaney, where she has been group chief executive officer and co-owner since 2007. In 2006, she was appointed as a non-exec of the Admiral Group a top FTSE 100 company. Post her retirement from the group board in 2016, Johnson took up the role of non-exec director of Confused and the international price comparison boards of the Admiral Group. She was awarded an OBE in 2013 for her services to the creative industry and voluntary services. She is a trustee of Now Teach, the organisation dedicated to helping successful late career-changers become teachers. Previously, Johnson help to found and was co-chair of the British Red Cross women’s philanthropy group, The Tiffany Circle.
2020 has stress-tested the qualities and metrics that define all great agency businesses: from leadership in adversity to the power of work cultures to motivate teams to excel during challenging times. All agencies regardless of their size have had to navigate their businesses through uncharted waters in order to succeed. I am honoured to be a judge this year and I will be looking for inspirational stories that can be shared, insights and actions that we can all learn from.
chief executive officer
Khan is one of the post millennial marketing communication leadership individuals in Bangladesh. Today, he proudly leads a team of more than 70 across four organizations – MACOMM, MediaAxis, D’reach and Creinse, from a start of a three member single boutique agency in 2005. Khan has led the companies to be among the top five across the media, creative and digital scene in the country. Currently he is heading the organization’s efforts to foray into Africa with digital advertising and also exploring entry into south Asian and South East Asian region as well in the post pandemic future. Khan is also working with business expansions into technology and digital startups. His personal portfolio of experience is diverse – he has worked in projects with IFPI, Sony Music, ESPN Star Sports, International Cricket Council, MTV Asia and also spearheaded the launch of the two biggest multiplex cinema theatres in Bangladesh as a consultant.
I take a lot of pride to wear the judging hat for this year’s award alongside some of the shining individuals of the advertising world. Through the next few weeks, I am very keen to discover how advertising agencies, small and big, and its teams around the world have strived to reinvent themselves through efficiency and transformations in these trying pandemic times to keep getting results. Sustained excellence needs to be recognized. And I hope to see some worthy achievers.
Esther (ET) Franklin
president, global strategy
Franklin develops and drives the strategic vision globally for Spark Foundry and its clients as president, global strategy and cultural fluency. An integral leader in the advertising community, she was named Advertising Woman of the Year by the Chicago Advertising Federation in 2018. In her current role, Franklin has been instrumental in pioneering Spark’s approach to strategy Heat, grounded in the concept of cultural fluency. By encouraging marketers to embrace an ‘inside out’ perspective, she has helped iconic brands – and the industry – understand the cultural identities, needs, motivations and media consumption habits of local and global audiences. Drawing on extensive industry experience, Franklin offers a unique perspective in any situation and, as a result, has strategically driven and enriched successful pitches for major accounts such as, Macy’s, Marriott International, Southwest Airlines, Mattel and more.
There has never been a more important time to critically and holistically assess what drives agency excellence. In order to thrive through the massive state of disruption thrust upon us, the concept of an agency village is key. Each agency eco-system consist of the better-known frontline as well as the lesser-focused on essentials. Acknowledging agencies on the leading edge of harmonizing across an increasingly complex array of functions/expertise/practices while inspiring its talent to deliver is inspiring!
Jean Paul Burge
chairman and chief executive officer
Based in Singapore, Burge is accountable for the performance and success of BBDO in the Asia region. He began his career at JWT London in 1998 and joined BBDO in 2004, rising from account management, to office management and since 2015 leading the regional network. Over the last decade, BBDO Asia is the most-awarded network for creativity and effectiveness in the region. With representation in more than sixteen countries, the network is known for creating award-winning advertising and brand communications solutions for clients including Hewlett-Packard, Visa, ExxonMobil, FedEx, Guinness, Mars, Pepsi, Johnson & Johnson, AIA, Mattel, Mercedes-Benz and Fonterra.
In the current environment, it’s more important than ever that we champion great work, foster cultures that produce great work and congratulate the people behind it. I admire great creative, but what I truly care about is whether it works. I’m looking forward to seeing relevant, creative, and most importantly, effective work that has made a positive impact on the client, our industry and society as a whole.
Clarkson is a world class business leader having created herself as a trusted partner to her clients, advising them on forward thinking solutions that solve both brand and cultural problems within the digital and social landscape. Working with Microsoft, Aviva, Vodafone, Hovis, Dreams, Pringles, Very and numerous UK government departments, she has led teams with creative thinking and an empathetic style. She takes pride in mentoring her team and creating space for collaborative thinking and alternative solutions. She runs a progressive enterprise that swims against the tide of many traditional adland behaviours.
This is my first year on the panel for the Agency Business Awards and I’m super excited. I’m deeply passionate for innovative agency culture, visionary leadership and effective results. I believe it’s all about the people dynamic and when you achieve a collective energy all working towards a common goal it can be very influential. Really looking forward to being sat alongside like-minded leaders that hold the same passion.
founder and chief executive officer
Kwittken is founder, global chairman and chief executive officer of global brand strategy and public relations agency KWT Global. He oversees the firm’s global growth strategy, it’s brand purpose specialty group and marketing technology product development unit, with a personal expertise that spans all aspects of corporate reputation and brand management, crisis and issues management and integrated communications. A tireless advocate for the intrinsic value communications brings to a brand’s key stakeholders, Aaron also writes a regular column for the Forbes CMO Network, makes guest appearances on CNBC, FOX Business Network and Bloomberg TV, and is the creator and host of the popular Brand on Purposepodcast.
This may be in fact the most defining moment in modern history for humanity and our industry. I’m interested to see agencies demonstrate how they’re future proofing their business, becoming purpose-built and more inclusive in words and actions.
Armstrong is most notable for making his name as the Honda car client who helped reset the brands perception through innovative and daring campaigns. He moved to head of European marketing for cars, motorcycles and power equipment to run their European marketing operation. In 2012, Armstrong joined Jaguar Land Rover as its global marketing communications director and was the briefing client behind the British Villains strategy, unleashing the power of the brand through the lens of charm, wit and a unique positioning. He left JLR in 2018 and started his own business called Topaz One, offering consultancy services in marketing. He is also chairman of an experiential agency, Kinetics Group, Advisory Board member of a content engagement platform, StoryStream.
In an uncertain world I want clarity, vision and leadership. I want a team that clearly demonstrate an appetite to overcome and a culture that exhausts every ounce of value from the team. If we can’t have this, in today’s world, then you may as well stay in bed! Don’t give me an entry that would win last year, give me an entry that wins this year! You’ll know it when you see it, that’s why I’m involved this year.
Oriel Davis-Lyons used to be a chef. But, after getting tired of the long hours and intense pressure he decided to get into advertising. He started his career in New Zealand at Colenso BBDO and in 2015 made the move to New York where he worked at R/GA and Droga5 before joining Spotify. He has won over 100 awards across every major show and his work often uses a non-traditional approach to highlight social issues, like creating a partnership between Amnesty International and AdBlock to protest online censorship or a campaign to put graphic warning labels on boxes of ammunition. He is also the founder of ONE School, a free, online portfolio program for Black creatives and an attempt to address systemic barriers to entry in the advertising industry. He lives in Brooklyn with his family in an apartment that gets smaller every day.
I'm excited to judge the awards because it takes into account not just the work we make as an industry, but also how it's made. It rewards the agencies that invest in their culture as much as their output. And this year, the ’how’ is even more important because it provides answers to questions we’re all asking. How have you adapted to the new normal? How did you take care of your people through everything? These awards are a great opportunity to highlight what best practice could look like going forward.
co-founder and chief executive officer
Powar is the co-founder and chief executive officer of independent digital agency, Rebel Owl. Based in Singapore, Rebel Owl works with leading brands globally to design and scale digital solutions that help brands connect with their customers in smarter, more efficient ways. Kenny was previously the chief executive officer of highly awarded startup digital agency BLUE, which was acquired by WPP. Following the acquisition, he was instrumental in creating global WPP digital agency, Possible, and was chief executive for the Asia Pacific region. Kenny currently also advises, mentors and invests in fast growth Fintech and B2B start up technology companies, and, is a board member of The Esplanade – Singapore's national performing arts centre.
Agencies had been under immense pressure to rethink and reinvent the way they were working even before the pandemic made things even more complicated. I’m looking forward to understanding how the best agencies are adapting their business models whilst keeping staff motivated and producing high quality, impactful work. I’m also excited to uncover the gems who are not normally in the limelight but deserve recognition for creating great places to work and being great partners for their clients.
chairwoman and chief creative officer
Bullard was the first creative woman to become chair of a UK marketing agency, that being multi award-winning MRM in London. Creatively recognized across nearly all the major shows, Bullard thinks she’s probably worked across every media and sector - but direct and digital are where her heart lies. She’s been writing professionally for 30 years and despite running a huge operation, she also keeps her hand in writing and ideating as often as she can. She is a fierce champion of the customer and believes insight is all. She is also hugely passionate about effectiveness - it’s only great work if it works.
I am so excited to be chairing The Drum Agency Business Awards for 2020. Why? Because this is a year like no other. A year when we as judges will really get to see the stuff great agencies are made of; how they navigated their clients though the crisis, how they supported their employees, how despite everything, they have come out better, stronger and more creative. I know it’s going to be truly inspiring and can’t wait to get stuck in.
Gellan Watt & Associates
creative director, global brand and growth strategy
Watt is an ex-agency founder, post exit. He founded Thinking Juice in 2003, merged the business becoming Group MD and chief creative officer of Emerge Group, and by way of organic growth and M&A become the twelfth largest independent agency business in the UK at time of exit in 2016. Today, Watt consults with brands direct, writes, invests in tech startups, troubleshoots for agencies, advises on growth, and is activist on the subjects of Mental Health and Addiction in the creative industries and beyond.
Running an agency and working in the agency business an amazing experience. But it’s tough. I know when I was running my own agency group that industry recognition in amongst the madness, not only makes a difference to the team but to the business itself. I’ve won a number of these awards - and going into new business battle holding a gong aloft to say, actually we are the best at what we do, and here’s proof can change the year ahead for an agency. And I’m super excited, especially in this climate to help identify and award the best in the business right now.
chief executive officer
Webser is CEO of Walrus, a full-service advertising and media agency she co-founded with Deacon Webster in 2005. Before Walrus, Frances was CMO at Mad Dogs and Englishmen and BSSP. A graduate of the University of the South (Sewanee), Frances is a member of the university’s board of trustees. She also sits on the 4A’s Eastern Region Board. As an active proponent of the industry, she is a regular speaker at industry conferences, including Advertising Week, 4A’s Management Conference, and Ad Age Small Agency Conference. Frances appeared on the Ad Age Ad Lib podcast, and has been featured in publications including The New York Times, Huffington Post, Adweek, Campaign US, Business Insider, The Drum, and Ad Age.
Typically, creative receives all the attention but we all know that behind every award-winning campaign is a well-oiled machine and talented people who make it happen, from producers and media strategists to management and finance. It's nice to be a part of a judging committee that shines a light on the business of the business.
The Barber Shop
Myers-Lamptey is the founder of The Barber Shop, a strategy-led creative company that aims to solve the biggest business problems through data, distribution and disruptive ideas. They work with businesses that are driven by a purpose and which strive to enrich culture through the pleasure that they bring. Their clients include Karma Cola, The Athletic, Tobefrank and Parkinson’s UK. He is also a board member of the UK Effies and a NED for the Brixton Finishing School. In 2019 Dino was recognised as a Top 10 Media Planner by Campaign. Myers-Lampte is also a founding member of MEFA (Media For All), and has recently founded Diverse Speakers.
While the core purpose of an agency is to produce effective work for their clients, we know that the pursuit of awards can sometimes come at the expense of people and culture. It's for this reason why I'm so glad to be judging The Drum Awards for Agency Business, as it sets out to award and value the things that make an agency consistently produce great work, which are its people and culture, and that is the true measure of success.
vice president of growth
Over the past 15 years Wilson's career has taken him from Australia to Asia working across APAC at five digital agencies, one of them his own, in roles ranging from regional director, vice president, managing director and CEO. In that time he also held senior board and advisory roles across both startup and industry bodies including two years as Chairman of the IAB. Wilson is now heading up growth for one of the most exciting companies in the industry, MediaMonks, in one of the most dynamic regions in the world, APAC. He is fiercely passionate about all things culture and creative and the effect that those creations and experiences can have on his fellow humans and colleagues and MediaMonks is a perfect conduit for that passion.
There is no doubt that everyone in our industry from the board to the grads has had to dig super deep to see their way through the year. That pressure and sheer amount of change is difficult and for a lot of businesses and individuals has been a case of survival. That can bring out the best and worst in people. I’m interested in the positive side of that equation and can’t wait to see how the participants made their best, better.
Society Redefined Consulting
founder and lead consultant
Rahaman is the founder and lead consultant at Society Redefined Agency. She is a big vision, dot-connecting, solutions builder. A hybrid between the worlds of strategy, cultural insights and client relationships. A multi-disciplined advertising, marketing and communications professional with over 15 years of brand, strategy and marketing experience. Supporting both national and global brands. Leading humans, campaigns, experiences and inspiring ideas.
I'm participating because representation matters. It is important we stop going to the same well to find talent. It is imperative we bring diverse perspectives to the table. Thus creating a path for fresh ideas and mindful marketing for the new majority consumer.
chief executive officer
Hulbert is the UK chief executive officer of Wunderman Thompson. Since taking the helm of the newly formed agency, Wunderman Thompson has enjoyed major client wins including Centrica, Duracell, INGKA, Toyota, Kaspersky and BT Sport and won over 75 awards including BT’s first ever D&AD Yellow pencil, a bronze Effie for HSBC UK and a Gold Cannes Lions for the NCDV. Hulbert has also worked hard to build a culture that sets Wunderman Thompson UK apart and allows people to bring their whole selves to work. This includes putting wellbeing, learning and development and diversity and inclusion at heart. A dedicated wellbeing studio and learning lab provide physical reminders of the agency’s commitment, supported by a calendar of classes, events and talks available for employees on and offline. Under Pip’s leadership the agency has also launched core initiative groups focussing on advancing the equality of LGBT+, BAME and women’s rights.
As a creative agency, part of our role is to help propel culture forward. At Wunderman Thompson we talk about creating ideas that become part of the cultural conversation but inject something unexpected. Creativity isn’t just about looking at culture and seeing what’s happening, there’s a degree of that, but true innovation is also linked to maintaining relevance by being part of your customers’ world. After the year we’ve had I’m particularly excited to be a part of the judging team to see the innovative ways business, brands and people have excelled. I am sure It’ll be a year like no other.
A full list of the 2020 jury can be found here.