Winners - The outstanding advertising graduates from each of the last five decades

By AdNews | 11 June 2024

The hunt for Australia’s most outstanding graduates from university advertising courses has uncovered the stars of each of the past five decades. 

QUT offered the first university program in 1974, followed by UTS 16 years later and another seven universities in the following decade.  

The Five Decades of Advertising Graduates competition identifies an outstanding advertising graduate from each of the decades since.

They are: Gayle Kerr, Rem Bruijn, Justine Armour (Rowley), Chris Colter, Matt Moran.

"For half a century, the Australian advertising industry has been influenced by the ingenuity and creativity of its graduates. It's high time we honour and highlight the significant impact these advertising pioneers have had on our industry," said Leigh Terry, project co-leader and CEO of IPG Mediabrands APAC.

Judge Louise Kelly, a retired senior lecturer at QUT, has taught advertising for many years.

“I have always known that an advertising degree is more than just a credential – it is a passport to a world of diverse career opportunities,” she said.

“Whether it is mastering media, unleashing creativity, crafting strategies or navigating the digital landscape, advertising graduates possess the versatility to excel in a myriad of roles.  

“We received applications from graduates who have travelled the globe and from those who has made significant contributions to the Australian Advertising industry.  Their diverse experience highlights the versatility of an advertising education and provides inspiration to current students of advertising.” 

To be eligible to enter, applicants must have studied an advertising major (not a minor) at an Australian university. Plus they must have worked in the advertising industry for at least five years.

The judges - Leigh Terry, Tony Hale (CEO, Advertising Council of Australia), Simone Waugh (Managing Director, Publicis Worldwide), Louise Kelly, Chris Pash (the editor, AdNews) - first established a short list.

Candidates were scored each across a set of criteria: Achievements, performance and client success; Number and quality of awards; Leading, advocating change, mentoring; and Application of knowledge and connections.


1974-83 - Ann Hughes, Gayle Kerr, Ken Minnikin, Jeff Smith

1984-93  - James Burchill, Andrew McCowan, Simon Bloomfield, Rem Bruijn, Ann Reilly

1994-03 - Liam Parker, Marianne O’Brien, Justine Armour (Rowley), Joe Carter, Matthew  Webster-Lawson

2004-13 - Jonathan Flannery, Chris Colter, Dean Vowles, Brendan Graham, Callum Spencer

2014-23 - Georgie Parchert, Lisa Dickinson-Fox, Anais Read, Matthew Moran, Marcus Billingham-Yuen


Gayle Kerr 1974-83 

“I always wanted to be a copywriter. And I enjoyed working in the advertising industry for more than a decade. But when my QUT lecturers asked me to come and tutor in their classes, I discovered that there was more than one way to use research, creativity and insight to persuade the customer to buy into the experience. It’s been a pleasure to see advertising from the student, the industry and the academic side. I’ve loved all three!”

Judges: “From a junior writer to one of Australia's leading academics. It is clear that Professor Kerr has made an enormous contribution to the Australian advertising community. She has attracted, nurtured and prepared some of the leading talents for many decades and for that the industry owes her this significant accolade.”

She sees teaching as similar to advertising. “Both are customer or learner-centric; involve creativity, technology, information and two-way interaction; and seek to persuade the consumer or learner,” she says.

She has a number of firsts, including the first academic to win the inaugural international Don Schultz Award for Innovation in Teaching, Research and Service in 2022.  She initiated and led the development of the Australian and New Zealand Advertising Academy (ANZAA) and served as President for eight years. And was the first non-American to serve on the Executive of the American Academy of Advertising. 

Rem Bruijn 1984-93

"I am absolutely astonished and delighted to receive this award. Thirty-five years post graduation I am also reflecting upon the fact that I owe a debt of gratitude to QUT for a very enjoyable and rewarding career. I actually enrolled in a Bachelor of Business Communications to study Journalism, but discovered Advertising was a thing and quickly changed lanes. I have been meeting remarkable people and been exposed to incredible opportunities ever since. My sincerest thanks!"

Judges: “Rem was inducted into the BADC Hall of Fame and has now been acknowledged in the five decades of Australian Advertising education. A writer and a Queenslander. Charter boat? What charter boat? (for RACQ)”

Founder / Creative Director - Brainheart  (2010 - current), Co-Founder / Creative Director - Everyday Hero (2006-2012),  Creative Director - Make Communications (2006 - 2010), Creative Director McCann Erickson (2000 - 2006)

He built his advertising reputation on work done for charities like Hear and Say, Mater Hospital Foundation, RSPCA and Youngcare which then led to him co-founding Everyday Hero, a peer-to-peer fundraising portal which raised close to $1B for charity worldwide between 2006 and 2014. 

He has tutored and mentored dozens of aspiring creatives, has frequently guest-lectured and volunteered time to QUT, UQ and Griffith University. He has been a regular voice on ABC Radio segments on advertising including The Hidden Persuaders and The Sizzle.

Justine Armour (Rowley) 1994-03

“Since I left QUT in 1998, my life and career have been a wild adventure from Brisbane to Sydney to Portland to New York, with clients and productions taking me to almost every corner of the world. Becoming a creative and then creative leader at some of the best agencies in the world took hard work, commitment, and great mentors, but none of it would have happened without the foundation of learning and support I had as a young person. I want to especially thank Professor Gayle Kerr for over 25 years of cheering me on, it has meant a lot to me.” 

Judges: 'Wow. What a trailblazer. In the male-dominated creative department, Justine has risen from the backwaters of McCann Brisbane, via some of the hottest creative agencies in the world including Wieden and Kennedy, to become the Chief Creative Officer of Grey New York, one of the oldest ad agencies in the world. Justine is unquestionably a global creative star and a shining light for everyone in the industry.'

She won an internship in 1998 at McCann Brisbane that became a full-time position straight out of QUT. 

“Until 2013 women in creative leadership averaged 3% globally, and when I was promoted to Creative Director at Wieden+Kennedy Portland I made it my mission to hire women to my team. I'm proud to say that I have always employed over 50% of female creatives on my team, leading to work that resonates strongly and is vastly more representative of the audiences we serve.”

Chris Colter 2004-13

“University literally changed the trajectory of my (and my family’s) life. I wouldn’t be in the career I love, the position I’m in or have the lifelong friends I have if it wasn’t for my time at uni. As a guy who grew up in a small regional town, in a family environment where further education felt out of reach, I’m incredibly proud to have just completed my degree, let alone receive an acknowledgment like this…beyond grateful.” 

Judges: “An incredibly worthy winner. From an Australian Young Cannes Lions winner to Crocodile Dundee for Tourism Australia and now recruited to help establish media for Accenture Song. An incredibly impressive series of achievements.”  

An MFA Ex and Awards Chair, he has championed inclusion. From leading the media strategy for inclusive campaigns such as MLA Summer Lamb, creating industry-wide platforms such Forgotten Upfronts, Beyond 3% and Awaken Your Unconscious, to championing inclusive representation.

Matt Moran 2014-23

“QUT holds a very special place in my heart, so I’m very honoured to be a part of this list. 

“Even after a decade of life after QUT I still carry my experiences and learnings with me every day. I’m feeling very grateful and honoured to be a part of this list”

Judges: “The rise and rise of Matt Moran happened so quickly he was Global Head of Strategy at TBWA before he was 30 years old. I can only imagine what the next 10 years might bring. A worthy winner of the most recent decade in the Australian Education Awards.”

He’s worked on Apple, Adidas, Amazon, Airbnb, Allianz, Aperol, Campari, Tourism New Zealand, Spotify and many more. 

He has been mentoring junior talent for years and seeks to make more inroads into the industry, especially for people from non-traditional backgrounds.

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