Mumbrella Asia Awards jury chair Nicole McMillan: ‘The most difficult-to-win awards are the most meaningful’

With the annual Mumbrella Asia Awards now open for entry until August 1, the Mars vice-president of marketing for Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Africa – and awards jury chair – Nicole McMillan maps out what she wants to see from this year’s entries

Jury chair McMillan is the Mars vice-president of marketing for Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Africa

It was a resounding ‘yes’ from me when I got the invitation to be the chair of the jury once again for the Mumbrella Asia Awards.  

The kudos associated with winning a Mumbrella Asia award grows each year. With a 40% increase in entries last year, how could it not? There is also incredible diversity in play with entries from all over Asia

And, of course, there is the trademark rigour that comes – with those shortlisted presenting their work to the jury live and being questioned on any areas where the jurors want to drill deeper or see a gap in the knowledge. Writing a beautiful submission alone just won’t cut it I’m afraid.

In fact, one of the key aspects I loved about being involved last year was hearing first hand from the entrants in the live judging round. The passion from them was inspiring and it also gave us a chance to probe deeper into the specifics of what they had achieved, how, when, where and why.

These, however, are not the reasons I said ‘yes’. It is more simple than that and on the surface, more selfish. I want to see first-hand the great work that is being produced in Asia by my peers and their partner organisations.  

Let’s be honest, it’s pretty easy to get stuck in the routine – and demands – of our day jobs. So much to do and so little time. It’s just too easy to pass on external engagements because they add pressure and don’t helping deliver the key performance indicators we are employed for. However, this is short-sighted.  

The pace of change in the media and marketing industry has never been faster or more brutal than it is right now. As marketing leaders, more than ever we must stay curious and push the boundaries of our knowledge.

The Mumbrella Asia Award

In my last six years in Asia, I’ve worked with some amazingly talented people and I grow more excited and optimistic about the possibilities for the industry in the region. Being involved in the Mumbrella Asia Awards is a great way for me – and you – to benchmark my marketing teams versus the best of the rest.

Seeing innovation and passion from peers outside of your own business also causes you to reflect on whether you are pushing the envelope hard enough with your teams.

What could we be doing better to delight the customer? Are we really breaking down silos in our ways of working, in order to deliver better products and experiences for our customers? Are we collaborating effectively with all of our agency partners to deliver effective media and creative? Are we really harnessing data effectively by using it to drive compelling insights as the foundation of creativity?

Are we really using tech in service of our customers’ needs or just because it seems sexy and everyone else is doing it? How are we driving the digital transformation in our own businesses?  

These are just a sample of the meaty questions I – and the other 286 esteemed jurors – will be asking ourselves as we review the work. This year I expect to be even more competitive than last year and not just in the quantity of entries. I believe we will see a rise in the quality of submissions too, given the reputation gained from the robust and credible judging process in place. The most difficult-to-win awards are the most meaningful.

The 2018 Mumbrella Asia Awards ceremony

Just like any great marketing idea needs to come from understanding the audience and their needs, strong submissions also need to understand the time pressure the judges are under in evaluating the entries. Therefore, the judges want to read submissions that are well articulated, relevant to the category they entered and really show cohesion from insight through to strategy, execution and results.  

The entries that are able to do this in a compelling way will stand out from the rest. And extra points if it’s delivered via a compelling story. That will mean we will love it even more

The addition of three new categories (Best Use of Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning, Consulting Team of the Year/Consultant of the Year, Design Agency of the Year) this year reflects the new trajectory the industry is on. In short: a greater emphasis on the use of data to positively fuel the customer experience; personalisation and companies, and brands, doing this ethically and usefully (no one wants to feel stalked.); the quest for a new type of campaign that follows consumers seamlessly across all touchpoints.

With that in mind, the awards categories this year in full are below:

Mumbrella Award for Bravery

Mumbrella Award for Insight

Mumbrella Award for Innovation

Mumbrella Award for Culture

Mumbrella Award for Data-driven Marketing

Mumbrella Award for Collaboration

Marketing Technology Company of the Year

Agency Leader of the Year

Under-30 Achiever of the Year

PR Idea of the Year

Media Idea of the Year

Social Idea of the Year

Best Use of Experiential

Media Brand of the Year

Creative Effectiveness

Best Content Marketing/Native Advertising Work

Best Use of a Social Media Influencer or Social Media Influencers

Most Engaging 360 Video/Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality Work

Engaging with Millennials Award

Best Use of Programmatic

Best Use of Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (new)

Disruptor of the Year

Best Localisation of a Global Strategy

Consulting Team of the Year/Consultant of the Year (new)

Marketing Team/Marketer of the Year

Campaign of the Year

Independent Agency of the Year

Design Agency of the Year (new)

Public Relations Agency of the Year  

Specialist Agency of the Year  

Media Agency of the Year  

Creative Agency of the Year  

So come on talented people, reward our curiosity. Overwhelm us with the growing quality of your work and make us all proud by continuing to raise the benchmark for all of us that are passionate about our industry in Asia.

The game is on, you have until August 1 to submit your entries here. Over to you.

Nicole McMillan is vice-president of marketing at Mars for Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Africa


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