Yahoo Academy Culminates with Pitch-off for Australian Charity ‘Musicians Making a Difference’

Yahoo’s annual industry-leading talent programme, Yahoo Academy, has come to an end, closing with a pitch-off event for Musicians Making A Difference (MMAD).

The class of 2024, made up of 30 talented delegates from the media and advertising industry  across Australia and Singapore, were challenged to respond to the pitch brief of ‘Make MMAD famous’. Delegates were asked to utilise the tools and techniques they picked up over the course of two days, through workshops on AI, product design, strategy for the real world, earning attention and speaking to the CFO, which were run by industry luminaries including:

  • Simone Gupta (Founder, Supermassive)
  • Tim Sharp (Founder and Principal, Gen8)
  • Rob Campbell (CSO, Colenso BBDO)
  • Kathryn Williams (Founder, KMint)
  • Alyse Behringer (Product Innovation Manager, Mastercard)

The judging panel, which included Campbell, Behringer, Sharp, Dominic Brook (Co-Founder, MMAD), John McNerney (Managing Director AUSEA, Yahoo), Natalie Stanbury (Director of Research, IAB, Australia), and Stephen Hunt (CEO, UnLtd) were presented with a range of innovative ideas from the teams. These ranged from dynamic brand partnership ideas to concepts involving large-scale UGC campaigns.


The stakes were high this year, with the teams going head-to-head in the quest for the prize: A trip to a destination marketing conference in June 2024.

It was ultimately a team called Guerres des Etoiles (French for Star Wars) which comprised Charlotte Delay from Spark Foundry, Daniel Miller from Kaimera and Tate Boden from Initiative, who won the contest.

Their idea, ‘Lost Beats – Amplifying the Invisible’ aimed to ‘bring belief to small-town Australia through music.’ The pitch recommended an Australia-wide MMAD bus tour that would help teach the country’s youth about mental health through the power of music. The goal was to shed light on the unseen and unheard voices of young people who need someone to believe in them. The team outlined how MMAD could leverage the content from the tour with stories that draw attention to the charity’s donation programme.

Teams Flying Economy, Pitch Fit, and MAC Pack also received an honourable mention for their strong approaches to the brief, sharing personal stories, defining audiences and creating compelling responses to the brief.


The pitch-off was the final segment of this year’s Yahoo Academy programme, which saw the Class of 2024 undertake an exclusive, free talent-building programme designed to advance their skills for the future of work and ground them in a human-centred approach. Delegates had the opportunity to learn from industry experts and take back valuable insights, skills and mentorship opportunities.

Singaporean delegate, Jasmine Phua of CPXi Asia, reflected on her experience on the Sydney-based programme, saying: “I’m so grateful for this opportunity. It has been incredible to get to meet so many new people and be exposed to an array of new ideas and ways of thinking. From practical use of AI to earning attention and even product design, it has stretched my thinking in new ways. One thing I will definitely be taking home is the lesson to challenge the status quo and push more innovative ideas with clients, which is something we need in the Singapore market.”

John McNerney, Managing Director of Yahoo AUSEA, adds: “These two days have been an immersive foray into topics that not only stretch the delegates’ immediate workplace thinking but play into creating really impactful solutions for our incredibly challenging brief.”

“We’ve designed the Academy to offer something valuable for everyone, with a focus on encouraging strategic thinking, practically implementing cutting-edge tools and finding new approaches to solve business problems. It’s something we know will enhance the way our participants approach their roles going forward and add real value across the board.”

In response to the delegates’ innovative plans to ‘Make MMAD famous,’ MMAD’s Co-Founder, Dominic Brook, said: “The Yahoo Academy brought together a bunch of legendary emerging industry leaders who are out to change the world. Sharing the last couple of days with them has been really inspiring, and the fact we have an actionable winning idea to take MMAD to regional Australia in an impactful way is just brilliant. It really hit the right note when it came to aligning with MMAD’s mission.”

Companies involved in this year’s Yahoo Academy included: CPXi Asia, Endeavour Group, EssenceMediacom, Group M Nexus, Half Dome, Initiative, iProspect, JCDecaux Australia, Kaimera, Kinesso, Mindshare, News Corp Australia, OMD, PHD Media, Publicis, Qantas Loyalty, Slingshot Media, Spark Foundry, Starcom, The Speed Agency, Them Advertising, UM, Zenith and Zenith Media Brisbane.

The winning team’s prize includes flights, 4-nights’ accommodation and tickets to a destination marketing conference this June.


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