Meet the Effies 2021 Executive Judges

Posted 7 September 2021.

​It is with great pleasure that we announce the Executive Judges for the 2021 Effie Aotearoa Awards.

Jonathan Waecker - Chief Customer Officer, The Warehouse Group

Jonathan has been with The Warehouse Group since 2017. Beginning in the role of Chief Marketing Officer, Jonathan became the Chief Customer Officer in February 2020. Jonathan is responsible for attracting, engaging and retaining customers through marketing, communications, customer experience and eCommerce activities, leading brand strategy and driving customer engagement across the Group’s portfolio of brands, including The Warehouse, Noel Leeming, Torpedo7, 1-day and Warehouse Stationery.

Prior to joining The Warehouse Group, Jonathan was based in San Francisco as Vice President of Marketing Communications at Yahoo, the fourth largest online property in the world at the time, reaching over one billion users every month. In that role, Jonathan led the fully-integrated team responsible for delivering all marketing communications during a critical turnaround period for the company, winning numerous industry awards, while driving revenue and results for the business and brand.

Prior to Yahoo, Jonathan spent time in global marketing, brand strategy and business development roles at Zynga and The Walt Disney Company, two of the world’s most engaging and digitally innovative consumer brands.

He has been named one of Brand Innovators 40 Under 40, received an MBA in Corporate Strategy from HEC Paris, a second MBA in Global Finance from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and graduated from San Diego State University.

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Sarah Williams - Head of Brand, Communications, and Experience, Spark

Sarah brings over 20 years’ experience in marketing, predominantly working for creative agencies helping build brand like ASB, 2degrees and BNZ. In 2016, she joined Spark as head of Brand and Customer Experience. Neuroscience has proven that we aren’t rational when it comes to making purchase decisions, and therefore we need to make people feel something in order to be effective. Sarah is passionate about finding the intersection where creativity helps drive measurable business success.

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Jonathan Symons - Director, TVNZ
Jonathan Symons is TVNZ’s Marketing Director, responsible for the Marketing, Blacksand, and the Research, Data & Insights teams. Jonathan previously held the role of GM Research, Data & Insights at TVNZ, where he led a massive shift in the way TVNZ listens to and learns from our viewers. Jonathan has also held executive level marketing positions at ASB and worked in a range of media and agency roles.

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Helen Fitzsimons - Head of Brand and Marketing, Sky New Zealand


As Sky New Zealand’s Head of Brand & Marketing, Helen provides strategic and creative leadership of Sky’s brand and marketing strategy across all Sky products and platforms. Over the last few years, Sky has seen great success with its Life Needs More Sky brand platform, including a Summer TVC awarded ‘NZ’s Favourite Ad of the Year’ 2019/20.

Prior to her time in the media and entertainment industry, Helen spent over 12 years working in advertising agencies in London, Amsterdam, Melbourne, and Auckland. This included the global brand management of award-winning work for Carlton Draught at Clemenger BBDO Melbourne; Nike and Nokia at Wieden + Kennedy London; Samsung and Mars at Colenso BBDO Auckland; and Asics and hp Europe at 180 Amsterdam;.

Helen began her career as a Commercial Solicitor after graduating with a BALLB from the University of Otago in 2004.

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Luke Rive - Director of Marketing, McDonald’s Restaurants (NZ) Ltd.

Luke has been in the marketing field for the last 20 years and joined McDonald’s as the Director of Marketing in 2020. He is a truly customer-focused marketer, with a track record of building and leading teams that deliver business and brand results.

Luke oversees all aspects of McDonald’s New Zealand’s marketing and communication activities, and is a member of the senior management team. His role includes responsibility for strategic planning and insights, marketing calendar development, managing agencies across integrated campaign creative and execution, and digital and data-driven marketing.

His marketing career has seen him work across a number of household names. Prior to McDonald’s, Luke held marketing leadership roles at bp New Zealand, Frucor Beverages, and DB Breweries.

As a passionate sports fan and with three kids there is plenty to keep Luke busy outside of work. These days it is usually either supporting from the side-lines, swinging a golf club, or on the bike.

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David Thomason - Brand Planner and Advertising Strategist, Independent

DT started out his career in creative, rising to Creative Director before switching gears and becoming a Planner/Strategist.

He led strategy at FCB NZ for 13 years, and was a key member of the management team driving the agency’s brand, culture, and integrated ‘Behaviour Change’ approach. He’s developed brand and advertising strategy for brands such as PAK’nSAVE, Mitre 10, Mercury and New Zealand Post, along with numerous government campaigns. In 2019

FCB won most creative agency at the Axis awards, most awarded agency for media at the Beacon awards, and most effective agency at the Effie awards.

DT now acts as an independent brand and comms consultant across a wide range of businesses, brands and projects. Recent projects include the NZ Post rebrand and Turners Cars campaign.

DT is an active contributor to the Comms Council, regularly writes and presents on advertising effectiveness, and guest-lectures on Behavioural Economics, Cultural Identity and Social Change at AUT and Auckland University.

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