The awards are judged by an esteemed panel of industry leaders and experts, the judging is a rigorous two-stage process including pre-scoring to determine shortlists and a judging meeting where entries are discussed and evaluated in detail to decide the winning entries.

In the interests of transparency, we may video aspects of the judging session to show on the evening and give entrants an insight into why a winning entry was chosen.

Colin Auton | Managing Director | Mustard

An experienced market research professional, Colin has worked both agency and client-side in the sector for almost 30 years. He leads a team of 25 from Mustard’s HQ in Manchester city centre, conducting work both domestically and internationally for leading brands across a range of consumer and b2b sectors using traditional and innovative research methods. Typically Colin works at a strategic level with clients, delivering insight to inform understanding and decisions on branding, marcomms, customer experience, npd and proposition development. This has included studies to inform the decision on which brand HBOS should use in England for its SME banking business following the merger between Bank of Scotland and Halifax, provide direction on the re-brand of Royal & SunAlliance to RSA, advise on customer experience measurement for the Government’s SME business support network, deliver intelligence to inform investments in new rides and attractions at Merlin’s theme parks, and track perceptions of the Harry Potter brand worldwide.

Neil Barnes | Media and Content Manager | Benenden Health

Neil is a communications all-rounder, having work in a number of related roles over 12 years for the health and wellbeing provider, Benenden Health. He now heads up their media and content function, covering public relations, content strategy, social media and sponsorships. His current focus is on promoting this challenger brand as a thought leader in health and wellbeing. Outside of the day job, Neil has been a councillor at City of York Council for 8 years as well as a trustee for York Museums Trust, with a passion for community engagement that began at the University of York as a students’ union officer. He lives in North Yorkshire and loves a day out on the Yorkshire coast.

Victoria Braddock | Director of International Marketing | Marketing Manchester

Victoria leads on the development and implementation of promotional strategies for Manchester and Greater Manchester, locally, nationally and internationally. Delivering effective marketing, communications and events to raise the profile of the destination as place to visit, live, work, invest and do business. Over her 20+ years of working in the City Victoria has supported the growth of Manchester, Greater Manchester and the North of England, during a period of extraordinary change and is focused on taking Manchester to the world. Delivering activity in China, US, India, UAE and Europe.

Stuart Clarke | Co-founder and Festival Director | Leeds Digital Festival

Stuart is the co-founder of Paceline, a marketing and PR consultancy, working with firms in the digital, professional services, financial and arts sectors. His 20+ years corporate career saw him running marketing and corporate relationships departments for the likes of Alliance & Leicester, first direct and TD Bank of Canada. He is a non-executive director and adviser to a number of startups, including JigTalk, Synap and Soc, and has helped startups to raise funds, through crowdfunding, angels and VCs. He is also the co-founder and the Festival Director of the Leeds Digital Festival, the largest tech event in the UK. In 2019, the Festival had 240 events and 25,000 attendees, with more tech events in Leeds than in San Francisco, Boston and New York. The annual Tech Nation report saw him named by startups as the most influential person in Leeds.

Alex Connock | Said School of Business, Oxford University

Dr Alex Connock is a Fellow at Said Business School, Oxford University, where he teaches marketing and the entertainment industry, and has roles at the National Film and TV School and Salford University. As an entrepreneur over a quarter of a century he founded and/or ran production companies Ten Alps, Endemol Shine North and most recently Missile. He’s on the board of UNICEF UK and the Halle Orchestra.

Lynne Cook | Head of Marketing | Skipton Building Society

As Head of Marketing for Skipton Building Society, Lynne Cook is responsible for leading the Marketing Strategy to deliver sustainable income and business growth for the benefit of customers and members. Lynne is responsible for driving forward the Society’s customer value proposition through the delivery of consistent branded experiences that reflect customers ever changing needs. She is focused on delivering powerful communications that connect emotionally and rationally with both existing and prospective customers, using wide and diverse channels to land messages. Lynne joined Skipton in 2013 and has been instrumental in driving forward the brand most recently seeing Skipton back on TV with a new campaign after a 10 year absence. Lynne is passionate about understanding customers, using both insight and data to inform Marketing strategy. With a degree in Communications and a post graduate diploma from the IDM Lynne has had a diverse career in Marketing with 20 years’ experience both agency and client side. As a working mum Lynne plays an active role in supporting the Diversity and Inclusion agenda.

Alex Craven | Founder | The Data City

Alex founded digital agency Bloom in 1999. As part of the first wave of digital agencies in the UK Bloom went on to pioneer the development of SEO, Social Media marketing and pay per click advertising going on to launch a marketing technology division ‘Bloom Intelligence’ specialising in applying advanced data science and artificial intelligence to digital media planning and buying. Bloom was acquired in 2016 and since then Alex has been voted ‘Entrepreneur of the year by the Leeds Digital Business community’, invested in and launched a new tech start up ‘The Data City’ which was identified as a top 3 start up by Tech nations ‘Rising stars’ programme and finally Alex is also an investor in a rare whisky bottling company The Sipping Shed.

Dom Dwight | Marketing Director | Taylors of Harrogate

Dom is Marketing Director for Taylors of Harrogate, an independent family business best known for producing Yorkshire Tea. A former food writer, editor & journalist, Dom stumbled into marketing by accident over a decade ago and discovered a real passion for trying to do it properly. With Yorkshire Tea recently overtaking the competition to be the UK’s number one tea brand, Dom’s on a mission to prove that businesses can be a force for good while simultaneously achieving commercial success.

David Edmundson-Bird | Principal Lecturer in Digital Marketing & Enterprise Associate Director | Manchester Metropolitan University

David is Principal Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University, where he leads a team of specialist digital marketing academics and runs a number of digital communications programmes. He is co-author of 7th edition of Digital Business & E-commerce Management with Dave Chaffey and Tanya Hemphill. David is Chair of Global Judging Standards for Don’t Panic. His role is to ensure objectivity, transparency and consistency across the judging panels for all Don’t Panic assets, and to provide a quality assurance process in the judging process. He set up Manchester Met’s first part-time MSc in Digital Marketing in 2007, their first full-time MSc Digital Marketing Communications in 2016 and Manchester Met’s Global E-Learning MSc in Digital Marketing. David founded Manchester Met’s Agency Life programme in 2012 to enable students to experience live work skills in the workplace very early in their course. He has enjoyed several spells in academia as well as senior management roles in the digital sector, helped to set up Manchester’s second web design agency back in 1995, He sits on the Board FutureEverything and is a trustee of The Education Trust.

Caroline French | Marketing Director | OSL Cutting Technologies

Richard Gregory | Non-executive Director

Richard is chairman of tech companies Ruler Analytics and Ash.tv, non-exec director of Fluid Digital and co-founder of SAScon - a digital marketing conference. Heralding from “Silicon Ramsbottom” he is an ardent supporter of the digital and tech industry in the North of England. Previously, Richard was the managing director of digital agency Latitude, director of Tech North and Manchester Digital council member. With 20 years of digital expertise, Richard now advises agencies and start-ups on marketing and growth strategies.

Alex Hamilton | Head of PR and Social | One Brand Magic

Head of PR and social at Manchester-based full-service integrated agency, One Brand Magic. Alex joined the board of directors in 2018, With a rich heritage spanning 46 years, One Brand Magic is a leading marketing agency with a wealth of B2B and B2B clients. Insight, creativity and evaluation are at the core of what One Brand Magic do, so Alex will be on the lookout for entries that exemplify those criteria!

Gareth Healey | Beyond Noise

Gareth has spent the majority of his 25 year career in marketing agencies on both sides of The Pennines. In 2002 he acquired Yorkshire based design agency Gratterpalm in a MBO. Under his leadership the company transformed into CreativeRace and became one of the UK’s leading independent integrated agencies. Working with some of the biggest brands in retail, CreativeRace achieved revenues in excess of £12.5M and, following the acquisition of Shoreditch digital pioneer Underwired in 2014, grew to a team of 175 with offices in Leeds and London. Having overseen 15 years of growth, but hungry for fresh challenges, Gareth sold his 50% stake in his agency in 2017. He now provides growth advisory to a portfolio of agencies as a non-executive director and through his boutique management consultancy Beyond Noise. A Tech Manchester mentor and angel investor, Gareth is a passionate supporter of early stage tech companies and their founders. In March he was a finalist in the prestigious Mentor of the Year category at The National Mentoring Awards, in recognition of his work with the founder of a Manchester based tech start-up.

Liam Howley | Chief Marketing Officer | musicMagpie

As Chief Marketing Officer at musicMagpie, Liam is tasked with the development and direction of the business's strategic marketing plans to maximize brand growth, customer acquisition, conversion and retention through online and offline channels. This includes control and management of internal digital, marketing and design teams & external agencies, with responsibility for planning, analysing and optimising a multi-million pound marketing budget in the UK for musicMagpie.co.uk and in the US for Decluttr.com.

Harriet Hughes-Payne | Director | COPA Group

Formerly the Managing Partner of twentysix Digital, Harriet has over 25 years experience delivering strategic design, brand and digital marketing solutions spanning multiple industries and sectors on regional, national and global levels. She has worked with Barclays Bank, Unilever, London Stock Exchange, Mercedes-Benz, Claridges, AstraZeneca and Proctor & Gamble amongst many others.

Kristal Ireland | Head of eCommerce & Retail Technology | LNER

Previously voted as one of the UK's Top 30 Women in Digital Under 30. A specialist in Social Media and Digital Brand Strategy, Kristal is an award winning, strategic and experienced digital marketing expert. A regular digital conference speaker and industry commentator Kristal has worked in digital for over a decade developing digital solutions for some of the UK’s biggest brands.

Garry Jenkins | Co-owner and Director | No Brainer

Gary is co-owner and director of No Brainer, an award-winning PR, social media and content marketing agency based in Cheshire. Gary is a former news journalist and corporate communications specialist. Formerly Senior Communications Officer at Warrington Borough Council, Gary moved on to become Head of Communications at Merseytravel in Liverpool and then latterly Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Bank of America in Chester, before setting up No Brainer with his business partner Lee Cullen in 2015. No Brainer has been named one of the UK’s hottest Start Ups (Start Ups 100 Index 2017), it was nominated for a British Small Business Award, and is currently the Chartered Institute of PR’s Outstanding Small PR Consultancy (Silver winner) and PRmoment’s Best New Agency in the North of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Steve Kuncewicz | Partner | BLM Law

Steve is a Partner and Head of Creative, Digital and Marketing at BLM Law in Manchester. He specialises in intellectual property, media social media and privacy law and is listed as a "recommended lawyer" in the Legal 500’s 2019 edition, and was a Co-founder if the Bulletproof Agency Network. He is a regular media spokesperson, and has given interviews to the local and national press through BBC Breakfast, Sky News, ITV, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 5 Live and LBC London. Steve is also the Manchester Publicity Association’s Honorary Solicitor and Co-Chair of Creative ProManchester.

Helen Lee | Account Director | Microsoft

Helen has extensive knowledge and experience having worked in the media industry for 26 years, with a demonstrated award winning history of working in digital. She has very recently relocated to the North, where she is originally from, and joined the team at Microsoft.

Sara Lennon | Senior Marketing Manager | University of Salford

Sara is Senior Marketing Manager at the University of Salford, where she has worked for the last five years. Sara leads the marketing team, whose remit covers both responsibility for all faculty marketing, as well as marketing for university-wide campaigns and recruitment events. Prior to working in the higher education sector, Sara gained extensive marketing and campaign management experience in the further education, local government and charitable sectors, successfully leading a wide range of organisation-wide projects and events.

Paul Morris | Head of Ecommerce | Havas Media

Paul has 22 years’ experience leading Marketing, Digital & Ecommerce both Agency & Brand side. Paul was previously Director of Digital/ Ecommerce at Marshalls PLC, Head of Marketing at Tesco Bank, global Digital/ Ecommerce Director at PZ Cussons (brands including St Tropez, Imperial Leather & Original Source), led Digital marketing at the Co-op Group (Food > Funeralcare) and have through the line experience of working both client and agency side with brands including Wickes, Laterooms, Intercontinental Hotel Group, Cash Generator, Stagecoach & Silverstone. Paul is now Head of Ecommerce for Havas Media.

Anil Patel | Marketing and eCommerce Director | Mode in Pelle

As Marketing and eCommerce Director Anils takes full ownership of the P&L and lead all Omni Channel including marketing activities across an estate of 50 stores. Anil has an excellent balance of commercial experience and academic knowledge; educated to degree and MBA level. In his previous roles Anil has acquired a broad range of skills, from running my own business to managing budgets in excess of £5m and sales of over £30m. Anil specialises in business turnaround and transformation and have a proven track record of delivering results.

Ricardo Seixas | Managing Director | One Day Agency

Along with his 15+ years of an international career in the digital space spanning 4 continents, Ricardo worked for consumer brands, start-ups, software houses, and digital agencies. Most recently, and after being a lead at Google and restructuring Media Agency Group’s digital division collecting multiple awards, he founded a digital marketing agency named One Day Agency. Across his experience, he led innovative digital projects and campaigns for Liverpool ONE, I Saw It First, L’Oreal, Telefonica, Sanofi, Ambev and the world’s top agencies.

Rob Shaw | CEO | Jaywing

Rob Shaw is the Chief Executive of Jaywing, a data science-led agency and consulting business, with a marketing technology division and growing international footprint. With 30 year’s experience in the technology sector – particularly in the field of digital marketing – Rob has managed services for some of the UK's largest brands including Tesco, O2 and Pets at Home. Employing over 450 people more than 70 of whom are experienced data scientists, Jaywing has offices in Sheffield, Leeds, London, Newbury and Sydney.

Justin Wilson | Marketing and Campaign Manager | University of Manchester

Justin Wilson is a Marketing and Campaigns Manager at The University of Manchester where he has worked for four and a half years. Justin and his team are responsible for all online and offline marketing output for The Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, a part of the University which is home to more than 11,000 students and 3,200 staff. Prior to working in higher education, he has worked in the charity sector, automotive, event management, financial services and for 12 years in FMCG at Coca-Cola. He has worked extensively in both B2B and B2C environments over the last 20 years. Outside work, Justin loves spending time with wife Sarah and 4-year-old son Joseph, as well as playing the guitar, bike riding and watching his favourite football team, West Ham United, a consistent source of stress and disappointment for well over 3 decades.