chief business officer
Defected Records

Acknowledged widely as an authority on all things marketing, public relations and content creation, James Kirkham joined Defected Records as Chief Business Officer in January 2020. Making the move to the independent label from an advertising and marketing background, James had just concluded four years at the football media company COPA90, where during his successful tenure as CBO he oversaw a 100% increase in revenue year-on-year, and coordinated partnerships with brands such as Uber, Budweiser, Nike, Pepsi and EA Sports.

As well as his impressive work with COPA90, where James and his team built a vast audience of young fans, peaking at 650 million monthly views in 2019, James has established himself as a media innovator and specialist voice on the industry, providing insights for news outlets such as The Guardian, CNN, Al Jazeera, Sky News and the BBC. As one of the world’s foremost media industry speakers, he has appeared on stage for a number of years at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, featured in BIMA’s prestigious Top 100 for three years running and was recently selected as one of the top Leaders Under 40 in the sports business. He was also named in Campaign Magazine’s esteemed ‘Power 100’ in July 2019.

Prior to COPA90, James founded his own digital advertising business Holler, the first agency in the world to market a TV show using social media, and the trailblazing nature of the business was noticed by industry leaders Publicis Group, who acquired Holler in 2010. James was promoted to Leo Burnett Worldwide’s Global Head of Social and Mobile, working with clients such as Procter & Gamble, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Kellogg’s.

In January 2020 James started his new chapter at Defected Records, joining the label as it enters its third decade. James is overseeing all social, content, marketing and PR activations at Defected, and makes an invaluable addition to the company as it navigates its position as an industry leader in a new era for the music industry.

“A hugely respected record label, now also a media company, we have one of the most engaged audiences and fervent fanbases I’ve ever seen. Combine that with staging truly incredible parties and events worldwide, it makes them the most exciting direct to consumer business on earth. I want to help Defected dominate this decade.”

In March 2020 Defected launched their Virtual Festival, a standalone event that evolved into a weekly residency in response to multiple event cancellations due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Within four weeks the online residency accumulated over 10 million views and gained worldwide recognition and acclaim, gaining media coverage in The Telegraph, BBC Radio 2, 6Music, Evening Standard, Le Monde France and Sky News Italy.

Why I am judging the awards... "Judging needs to be about setting the agenda. For those that win, they need to be seen to both lead and innovate. Future years should be able to see this as the marker, plotting a course for others to follow. So innovation is key, delivering social with smart modern clarity in a world of noise and clutter. Of particular interest will be those who can shine positivity and with purpose, when social toxicity has been such a big part of the discourse."

Judging panel

David Wilding

director of planning
Twitter UK

Joseph Pek

head of social media

Smith Leong

social media trainer
National Trades Union Congress

Wenen Tang

social communications lead, APAC

Alexis Nelson

social media manager

Elfried Samba

head of social content

Will Harvey

Global digital innovation manager, GB & IOI

Lisa Hale

head of social media

Yuval Ben-Itzhak

chief executive officer

Makeda Smith

chief executive officer
Savvy Chicks in Real Estate

Kineta Kelsall

global social media training director

Ellen Stewart

social content lead
Condé Nast

Steven Moy

global chief executive officer

Katy Howell

chief executive officer
immediate future

Tim Armoo

chief executive officer

Sinead Gray

joint managing director

Beth Carroll

head of social
iris Worldwide

Jenny Sprackling

senior digital marketing manager
Ordnance Survey

Kristin Maverick

vice president, social & influencer marketing

Christina Ahmed

paid media performance director
Greenlight Digital

Shawn Tan

head of search & social
M&C Saatchi Performance

Rachel Clay

head of social media & influencer marketing

James Whatley

strategy partner
Digitas UK

James Gregson

director, head of social studio
LEGO Group

Ishbel Macleod

marketing manager
We Are Hydrogen

Jinal Shah

vice president of marketing

Matt Navarra

social media consultant
Matt Navarra Media Ltd

Laura Hopes

global social media lead
Jaguar Land Rover

Jack Koch

global head of marketing sciences


chief executive officer & co-founder
Brave & Heart

Gianluca Toccafondi

global integrated media manager
IKEA Group

James Kirkham

chief business officer
Defected Records

Victoria Taylor

senior editor, community
Linkedin News

Neil Harrison

head of media
Royal Mail

Chaseedaw Giles

social media editor
Kaiser Health News