Leo Burnett’s Murtaza A. Tajbhoy Becomes First Sri Lankan to win IAA Champion Award

Murtaza A. Tajbhoy, Chief Strategy Officer at Leo Burnett Sri Lanka was awarded the IAA Champion Award. The win makes him the first Sri Lankan to win the prestigious accolade.

Tajbhoy 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 last year as part of IAA’s 2017 Inspire Awards, honors notable leaders for their lifetime achievements, vision and their contribution to the global marketing communications industry.

Insight-driven, analytical thinking is changing the marketing communications landscape around the world. To be recognized for the value I have added to this industry is a very satisfying reward.


“I am incredibly proud that Murtaza was honored by the International Advertising Association with its first-ever Champion Award,” said Arosha Perera – Chief Executive Officer, Leo Burnett Sri Lanka. “Murtaza has transformed the strategic approach to marketing communications in our industry and is a torchbearer not only for us at Leo Burnett, but also for the local advertising industry. His insights, initiatives and perspective have blazed a new trail for the Sri Lankan advertising industry. His insights into people and their behavior and his desire to understand social norms and cultural fuel has helped us transform brands under his stewardship.”

Tajbhoy 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.

“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,” said Felix Tataru – World President and Chairman of IAA in a statement to congratulate all IAA Inspire Award winners.

“I am honored to receive the IAA Champion Award,” saidTajbhoy. “Insight-driven, analytical thinking is changing the marketing communications landscape around the world. To be recognized for the value I have added to this industry is a very satisfying reward. This recognition is a reward for my team and I would like to share this honor 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.”


Tajbhoy 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 behavior. In 2010, he was also named a Star Reacher by Leo Burnett Worldwide and was invited to the company’s headquarters in Chicago.

Tajbhoy led some dynamic initiatives at Leo Burnett, including the first-ever National Celebrity Study to uncover the “real” power of celebrities in advertising and a ground-breaking research into the middle-income sector of Sri Lanka, providing vital insights into the evolving mindset of this segment and their lifestyle. He regularly shares these insights and learnings with the wider industry, through his time as a mentor and guest lecturer at the University of Moratuwa’s Design Faculty and through training programme organized by the industry.

In addition to winning multiple awards locally and internationally, Tajbhoy has also served on many regional and global juries, shaping and formulating new standards of excellence for the industry. He was the first Sri Lankan to be invited to join the AMES Asia Pacific jury in 2015, and the Spikes Effectiveness Award in 2016.

These achievements and more have contributed to his journey towards the IAA INSPIRE AWARDS, where he received the 2017 IAA INSPIRE “CHAMPION” AWARD in recognition for his excellence in leadership, vision and distinguished services, contributed to the International Advertising Association and to the advancement of marketing communications worldwide. He is currently working on understanding the VIP, a hitherto difficult segment to research within Sri Lanka. Despite his hectic schedule, he traverses the country with the planning team to observe, research and engage with people. Tajbhoy’s efforts have enabled Leo Burnett to be a key strategic partner to its clients.

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