Verizon Media’s industry-leading talent program, Verizon Media Academy, has come to an end for the third year, closing with a hybrid pitch-off event for Musicians Making A Difference (MMAD).
The Class of 2021, made up of 44 emerging leaders from across the Australia and New Zealand media, advertising and marketing industry, was given just one hour to respond to a brief from Jessica Alex, Charity Development & Engagement Coordinator at MMAD. Delegates were asked to come up with a big idea to launch and drive sales for MMAD’s new streetwear line whilst raising awareness of the Australian youth charity.
Judges including Dominic Brook (MMAD), Chris Freel (UnLtd), Gai Le Roy (IAB) and Paul Sigaloff (Verizon Media) heard a range of innovative ideas from the 11 teams of young rising stars from TikTok activations to QR codes and AR experiences.
Ultimately it was a team from Melbourne consisting of Claire Lu (Wavemaker), Dylan Tolua (Mediacom), James Rowland (PHD Media) and Madeleine McConnachie (Thinkerbell) who took home the coveted prize of a three-day retreat plus one year of executive coaching. The winning ‘Hottest 480’ idea aimed to disrupt Triple J’s Hottest 100 Countdown to raise awareness of the 480 people whose lives have been transformed by MMAD.
Sydney team of Beth Sawyer (OMD), Zac Kelly (Carat), Nicole Overton (Wavemaker) and Claudia Lee (Lionize) received a highly commended for their ‘Night of Madness’ idea.
Teams dialled in from live events in Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland with Melbournians dialling in from home amidst the recent lockdown. The event was publicly live broadcast to senior leaders across the industry who tuned in to cheer on their young rising stars.
The pitch-off was the final element of this year’s Verizon Media Academy program that has seen the Class of 2021 undertake an exclusive, free educational training program designed to advance their careers over a two-month period. The program has featured mentoring, networking, exclusive industry benefits and a virtual masterclass series aimed to arm the group with the latest in-demand skills.
Continuing last year’s commitment, the virtual masterclasses remained open to the industry for free and featured an all-star line up of talent including Cindy Gallop, Claire Salvetti and more. You can catch up on past episodes here: www.verizonmedia.com/masterclass
Rachel Page, National Sales Director at Verizon Media ANZ, commented on this year’s experience: “I was thrilled to once again be involved in the Verizon Media Academy as a mentor, host and judge. It’s so inspiring to be surrounded by such raw and inspiring young talent and it’s been an absolute privilege to have played a small part in helping develop our industry’s emerging leaders.
“A big thank you to all of the senior leaders who put forward their young talent. Together we’re truly building the future of our industry.”
Madeleine McConnachie, Account Director at Thinkerbell and pitch-off winner, commented on the experience: “From the get go when I was put forward for selection into the program to experiencing intimate Q&A sessions with industry’s masterminds like Cindy Gallop to this incredible pitch-off event, the Verizon Media Academy experience has been truly unforgettable. I’ve learnt some amazing lessons and gained new perspectives that are really going to help take my career to the next level.”
Ben Shephard, General Manager at Thinkerbell and Madeleine’s peer-nominator, added: “Seeing Madeleine’s progression through this program has been an absolute pleasure to watch. I’m incredibly proud of her achievement winning the pitch-off event and even prouder to support such a great industry initiative.”
Companies involved in this year’s Verizon Media Academy were: Atomic212, Carat, Compare Club, Hearts & Science NZ, Ikon Communications, inc Digital Media, Involved Media, JCDecaux Australia & New Zealand, Kaimera, Lionize, MBM, MediaCom, Mindshare, OMD, Orange Line, Performics Mercerbell, PHD, PHD Media, Prospect, Resolution Digital, Spark Foundry, Starcom, Thinkerbell, Universal McCann, The Warehouse Group, Wavemaker, Xaxis and Zenith Media.