Researchers unite, Synovate dominates and only one person falls off stage at MSRNZ awards

The sixth biennial Market Research Effectiveness Awards were held at Auckland’s Hilton Hotel on Friday. And with not a pie chart, pocket protector or sellotaped pair of glasses in sight, the science boffins of the marketing world converged with their clients to prove just how effective good market research can be in driving business and marketing success.

This year the awards stood out for many reasons. Many things changed: there were more entries than ever before, a record turn-out on the night and the winners ranged from one-man-(or woman)-bands, to major research houses, to client-side in-house research teams. Life members were recognised, MC Bill Ralston did a fine job and only one person fell off the stage. And that many ‘faces’ of the marketing industry were there, even if they weren’t affiliated to any particular entries, reaffirmed the important place these awards now command in the marketing calendar.

Casting one’s eye over the awards it is especially rewarding to note three of the winners on the night. With sole-person operators Supplejack and Athena each winning Platinum Awards (the AMRO Effective Partnerships Award and the Research Now Consumer Products Platinum Award respectively), it is gratifying to see how clients are increasingly happy to entrust single practitioners with their challenges.

The third winner of note was for the Nielsen Company Innovation Award, which was won by the ANZ Bank’s internal research team working with digital marketing enablers TouchPoint. This is the first award won by a ‘client side’ in-house research team, and it demonstrates the good stead the awards are in, not to mention some smart people at ANZ.

Continuing their notable success over the history of the biennial Awards, Synovate wore out a path to the stage, winning the NZ Marketing Magazine Business to Business Award for a project conducted for pharmaceutical company Astra Zeneca, the Lion Nathan Social and Community Award for its Beijing Olympics debriefing work conducted for SPARC, the TVNZ Media and Advertising Award for Commonwealth Bank of Australia (proving that New Zealand market research companies can even beat the Aussies on their own turf) and the Reid Research Consumer Services award for Synovate’s work helping Air New Zealand redesign its long haul product.

Athena Marketing Research broke Synovate’s run of four in a row, taking out the Research Now Consumer Products Platinum Award for their work helping King Salmon take the high ground against inferior imported salmon.

But not all the awards went to those still at the coalface, with six new Life Members being appointed for their services and achievements within the industry over the decades: Dick Brunton (Colmar Brunton), Michael Cook (Focus), Duncan Stuart (Kudos), Ron Stroeven (InfoTools), Jamie Hall (CM Research, now TNS Conversa) and Ross McComish (everywhere and now McComish Research).

Balancing off the grey hair on show amongst the Life Members were the five contenders for the Auckland University Rookie of the Year award, won this year by Synovate’s Joshua Buckley, who is now slated for a Life Member award in 2060.

Proceedings concluded with the two glamour awards, the penultimate one being the Nielsen Company Innovation Award, which went to ANZ and Touchpoint for their work in automating the process of soliciting, collecting and reporting of feedback from customers to management and front-line staff for immediate actions.

To finish things off, the Infotools Supreme Award was awarded to Synovate for the second time running for its aforementioned work helping Air New Zealand completely rethink how they profiled their customers and the long-haul options that best suited them. The judges said it was “demonstrably world-class in its purpose, inception and execution”.

And then it was party time.

You can check out all the winners and finalists at www.msrnz.org.nz.

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