Murtaza Tajbhoy – Chief Strategy Officer, Leo Burnett Sri Lanka receiving the IAA Champion award

Article featured at: Daily Mirror

Murtaza Tajbhoy, Chief Strategy Officer of Leo Burnett Sri Lanka was awarded the IAA Champion award. He is the first Sri Lankan to win this prestigious accolade. The International Advertising Association (IAA) selected Murtaza as one of five global leaders in the marketing communications industry to receive this honour.

Murtaza received the IAA Champion award recently at IAA’s 2017 Global Conference held in Bucharest, Romania where more than 600 delegates from the international advertising and marketing communications industries were gathered to celebrate the future of the industry and to celebrate individuals who have made a difference to the industry. The IAA Champion Award, introduced this year as part of IAA’s 2017 Inspire Awards, honours notable leaders for their lifetime achievements, vision and their contribution to the global marketing communications industry.

“I am incredibly proud that Murtaza was honoured by the International Advertising Association with its first-ever Champion Award,” says Ranil de Silva – Managing Director, Leo Burnett Sri Lanka. “Murtaza has transformed the strategic approach to marketing communications in our industry and is a torch bearer not only for us at Leo Burnett, but also for the advertising industry in general. His insights, initiatives and perspective have blazed a new trail for the Sri Lankan advertising industry. His insights into people and their behaviours and his desire to understand social norms and cultural fuels has helped us transform brands under his stewardship.”

Murtaza joins luminaries from the global advertising industry as one of only five recipients of the first IAA Champion award – his fellow champions include Brendan Ripp, Executive Vice President of the Fox Networks Group and Akira Kagani of Japan’s Drill Inc.

In a statement to congratulate all IAA Inspire Award winners, Felix Tataru, World President and Chairman of IAA said “The IAA Inspire Awards have been initiated to pay tribute to our members for their many achievements and contributions of Leadership, Vision, Commitment and Service to make a difference in the worldwide arena of marketing communications. They have contributed their professional expertise and inspired the marketing communications community locally, regionally and globally.”

“I am honoured to receive the IAA Champion Award,” says Murtaza Tajbhoy. “Insight driven, analytical thinking is changing the marketing communications landscape around the world. To be recognized for the value I’ve added to this industry is a very satisfying reward. This recognition is a reward for my team and I’d like to share this honour with my mentors and the diverse people who have guided and inspired me. This IAA Champion award is not an accolade for me, it’s a reward for Sri Lanka’s marketing communications industry.”

Murtaza joined Leo Burnett in 2000, rising from a Junior Brand Executive to Chief Strategy Officer spearheading the company’s belief that creativity can transform human behaviours. In 2010 he was also named a Star Reacher by the Leo Burnett Worldwide and was invited to the company’s headquarters in Chicago. Sri Lanka didn’t have sufficient in-depth data to understand the attitudes and behaviour of the growing middle class. So he convinced Leo Burnett to invest in its own study: engaging both academics and a research agency to develop a multi-dimensional approach to study people across the country. The qualitative and quantitative studies which emerged from this initiative uncovered that this large populous could be categorized into 4 segments. Similarly, his research on Sri Lankan Celebrities was an invaluable asset to the strategic planning process of several brands which were managed by Leo Burnett. His white paper on the ‘Pettah’ entrepreneur, originated from his curiosity to understand a specific group of entrepreneurs in the country. The paper was presented at multiple management conferences across the country and was championed by the Postgraduate Institute of Management in Sri Lanka. Murtaza’s commitment to lead regular “Dirty Feet” initiatives with his team to uncover people-led behaviours of Sri Lankans across the island has been extremely valuable to his clients, the agency and himself.

In 2012, Murtaza’s work earned Sri Lanka’s first ever Gold Spike for creative effectiveness, followed by accolades at AMES, APPIES and Effies. This year he crowned his accomplishments claiming for Leo Burnett the title of “Agency of the Year at the Sri Lanka Effies. He was also the first Sri Lankan juror of AMES ASIA PACIFIC in 2015, and the Spikes Effectiveness Awards in 2016.

In his 17 years’ career at Leo Burnett he has played a pivotal role to drive the agency to its current pinnacle of success despite his many successes and illustrious career Murtaza remains a grounded professional who loves his role and responsibilities and is inspired by the world that surrounds him.