Advertising Council Australia has announced Mandie van der Merwe as the new Chair of the Australasian Writers and Art Directors Association (AWARD). Saatchi & Saatchi’s incoming joint CCO takes over from M&C Saatchi CCO, Cam Blackley, who steps down later this month after four years leading AWARD.
van der Merwe brings a wealth of experience to the role, having honed her craft over 20 years across three continents alongside her creative partner Avish Gordhan, at top agencies Dentsu Creative, M&C Saatchi, Cummins&Partners, TBWA\Sydney and international creative shops The Jupiter Drawing Room, Black River FC and more.
She has served as national head of AWARD School for two terms in 2020 and 2021, where she was instrumental in transforming the program during the pandemic. She has been recognised over 200 times at the biggest award shows in the industry, including D&AD, Cannes Lions, AWARD Awards, Clio, Spikes and The One Show.
Speaking on her new appointment, van der Merwe said: “It is a privilege to lead the AWARD Executive Committee. With the creative landscape constantly evolving, it’s incredibly important that AWARD keeps innovating and adapting to maintain its status as the champion of creativity in this region. To be steering it through the next phase of growth is incredibly exciting.”
“I’d like to thank Cam for his excellent enthusiasm and strategic thinking over the years. The future of AWARD is brighter for his contribution and his energy will be missed by all on the AWARD Council.”
Blackley’s achievements as AWARD Chair include:
- The complete rebrand and restructure of AWARD, taking it from a committee-based association to a council of respected creative leaders
- Rebuilding the entry criteria for AWARD Awards and boosting entries, diversity among jurors and the program’s international standing
- Transforming AWARD School during the pandemic and creating a hybrid learning experience that now upskills international, regional and remote students in the art of commercial creativity
- Launching This Way Up, AWARD’s signature three-day creative festival which has been embraced by the country’s creative community
- Expanding AWARD’s education offering to include AWARD Craft and AWARD Uni and filling a gap in the industry’s professional development offering for senior and mid-weight creatives
ACA CEO Tony Hale said: “To quote its manifesto, AWARD is as strong, dynamic and powerful as the people who participate in it and there’s no truer statement than that to describe Cam’s contribution as AWARD Chair. We thank him for serving selflessly on the Council and helping to reposition AWARD back to where it belongs, in the heartland of creative agencies in Australia and across the region.
“We welcome Mandie, an internationally celebrated creative, who will continue to drive the AWARD brand and community forward, helping it to champion creativity as the powerful force we all know it to be,” he said.
Outgoing AWARD Chair Cam Blackley said: “It’s been a wild ride. I’m blown away by all the AWARD Council has achieved in my time as chair. We set about to bring stature back and add as much value to the creative community as time and money would allow.
“The key to success is the group of stars including Mandie, that we’ve curated to bring broad opinion and progressive thinking to everything we do. I’d like to thank them for their outstanding ideas and contributions and wish them all the best in taking AWARD and its stellar lineup of programs to new heights.
“Finally, a special call out to Esther Clerehan and Barb Humphries who are also coming to the end of their tenure, I can’t express how integral they’ve been to the success of AWARD’s renewal,” he said.
All current members of AWARD’s Executive Committee are listed here.