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Local Professional Development Programs

IAA ‘Big Idea’

Each year in Australia there are many ‘award’ programs within the advertising and broader marketing communications industry. The IAA ‘Big Idea’ is different in two critical ways.


First, it is a student award competition, designed to foster the talents of the next generation of communication professionals, in line with the IAA’s on-going commitment to professional development. Second, the client is a charity – a not-for-profit organisation that will truly appreciate the ‘pro-bono’ work the student teams produce.


IAA Big Idea not-for-profit clients have consistently acknowledged with gratitude the creativity and high quality of workable ideas they received from the student teams. Since its inception in 2003, clients have included The National Heart Foundation, Foodbank Australia, United Way Australia, The Royal Flying Doctor Service, Habitat 4 Humanity, Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA), Assistance Dogs Australia, Frontier Services, Coeliac Australia, Good Beginnings, Kids Helpline, Legacy Australia and Save the Children Australia.


Students are invited to devise a marketing communications campaign for the designated not-for-profit charity organisation, working in agency-style teams to develop a fully integrated communications solution. In response to the client brief, the teams deliver an end to end plan from the research stage to the creative concept, right through to the final presentation of their ‘Big Idea’. The winning ‘Big Idea’, as well as all the other ‘big Ideas’ submitted by the students, are made available to the client and over the years, a great many of them have been implemented.


The IAA Australia Big Idea is a unique Australian national student competition that provides hands-on integrated marketing communications campaign development experience for students at tertiary institutions and universities in Australia who offer advertising and marketing communication courses. The competition attracts entries from right around Australia and the students that enter each year express their appreciation for the beneficial nature of the program and the valuable career-ready learning experience it offers. The IAA ‘Big Idea’ is designed to challenge students to:

The IAA ‘Big Idea’ is designed to challenge students to:


  • Work in agency-style teams
  • Produce marketing communication solutions for a real client, a respected and needy charity organisation
  • Develop integrated concepts across all mediums, from research and strategy development to creative   conceptualisation and presentation standard
  • Be professionally evaluated by a judging panel of respected industry professionals as well as  representatives of the Client


IAA ‘Big Idea’ 2016


The National Champions were the Kajulu Red team from Charles Sturt University

With the runners-up coming from teams at University of Canberra, UTS and CSU

Chairman of the judging panel, Ian Perrin, CEO ZenithOptimedia said

“The judges were blown away by the standard of work this year, and all entrants should be highly commended. We were particularly impressed with the rigour of the insights work, the innovation displayed in the thinking and the impeccable detail delivered in every execution. Based on what we have seen through this process the future of our industry is in very good hands, indeed”.

IAA ‘Write your Future’


IAA ‘WRITE YOUR FUTURE’ Travel Scholarship is an Australia-wide professional development competition for young professionals who are 30 years of age and under, working and/or studying in marketing communications.  It is held every two (2) years and the prize is an expenses paid trip for the winner to participate in the biennial IAA World Congress, the world’s premier marketing communications event which is hosted in a different country each time (hosted previously in Washington DC, Moscow, Beijing and scheduled in Mumbai in 2018).


Candidates aged 30 years or under who are working and/or studying in marketing communications are invited to submit a video and amplification page (PDF) to address one of three topics set by IAA Australia. The essay submissions are judged by a panel of five judges , all industry experts and thought leaders from different facets of our network.


A number of the winners of this IAA youth travel scholarship award have gone on to become industry leaders in Australia and internationally.