National Awards Competitions

A.B. Blankenship Award

The A.B. Blankenship Award was established in 1994. It was originally named the "Georgian College Award" but in 1997 was renamed to honour Al Blankenship for his contribution in the practice, teaching and writing of marketing research. He was a founding member of PMRS and a founder of the Fellows program. Up to now, the award was given to the student with the highest mark in the Market Research Analyst program at Georgian College. Up until 2015, it had been awarded through a competition to a graduating student from a marketing research-related program in a Canadian community college.

In 2016, The A.B. Blankenship Award competition was rebranded and is NOW open to any MRIA member, ages 30 and under. Nominees will have to submit an essay on one of the broad topics listed below, 1000-1500 words in length, that either:

  1. Outlines an innovative research solution to tackle a challenging social issue in Canada; or
  2. Outlines an innovative methodological solution to tackle a challenging issue facing the Canadian market research industry.

A jury from our Emerging Leaders Task Force (ELTF) will select 3 finalists whose papers will be presented on the MRIA website, and a winner who will receive recognition at the Gala Dinner of MRIA's Annual Conference. 

The 2016 essay topics are:

  • Automation and DIY research: The research industry is becoming increasingly automated with AI now being capable of nearly all research processes. Do-It-Yourself (DIY) platforms are also now readily available online and open for anyone to use, making it far simpler for just about anyone to launch their own survey.
    • As new companies and new platforms emerge, seeking to streamline and put research processes at the finger-tips of the consumer, how do traditional marketing research agencies adapt to stay abreast with this evolution? Is there a way to add a valuable human component to these automated processes?
  • Generations and Cultures: In September 2015, Statistics Canada announced that for the first time, people aged 65 and over outnumbered children aged 14 and under. As a result of this aging population, several generations, all distinct and unique, now coexist in society and in the workplace.
    • How can public and private institutions adapt to stay relevant to an increasingly diverse society? Millenials have been the focus of marketers in recent years, but will they really be the most impactful generation in coming years? How do public institutions increase their appeal to younger generations while staying relevant for older individuals? 
    • How does the research industry manage the expectations and viewpoints of these distinct demographic groups? How are successful cross-generational teams built? How does the industry successfully learn and benefit from the experiences of each generation? Is there an emerging debate between "old vs. new methods"?
  • Privacy and Security: Modern society is becoming increasingly more private and more suspicious of government and industry when consumers are asked questions about their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This has resulted in more consumers opting-out of surveys, panels, and interviews.
    • How does the research industry stay on-top of these issues and ease concerns of the public that they are in-fact handling their personal information properly? What impact could evolving Federal and Provincial legislation (ex. CASL, PIPEDA, The Privacy Act) have on the research industry, and how does the industry adapt to those changes?

Eligible submissions will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Thoroughly understands the issue (Explains how it is relevant, the challenges it presents to those who face it, the implications of not addressing this issue, and the impact your recommendations may have).
  • Explains how this solution will address the issue at hand, provide actionable insights and recommendations, and why it is preferred over alternatives. 
  • Is innovative, creative, and provides fresh thinking in it's approach.
  • Values scientifically and statistically sound methodologies to gain insight and support decision making.
  • In line with MRIA Code of Conduct.

The winner will receive:

  • a $1,000 monetary award
  • Free individual membership for the current year
  • Sponsorship to take the CMRE, to obtain their CMRP (if not already a designation holder)

To participate: Those wishing to participate in this competition should forward two copies of their essay (one with their name, one without) to

Deadline for Submission: May 1, 2016

Past Recipients

Year Name Internship Current Employment
2013 Kamila Duda Humber College's Research Analyst Post-Graduate Certificate program --
2013 Jun Shi Georgian College's Research Analyst Program --
2013 Graham Pressey Algonquin College's Marketing and Business Intelligence Research program --
2012 Abhay Tiwari -- Harris/Decima
2011 Elisabeth Garmaise -- Environics Research Group Ltd.
2010 Joe Lee GlobeScan --
2009 Angelika Kerr Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario Research Analyst
Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario
2008 Jillian Barber Environics Research Analyst Environics Research Group Toronto, ON
2007 Colin MacDonald North Simcoe-Muskoka Local Health Integration Network Research Officer Yukon Dept of Tourism & Culture Whitehourse YK
2006 Elizabeth Nowicki MillwardBrown Research Manager, Environics Research Group Toronto, ON
2005 Jill Hickman Ipsos-Reid Research Manager, Ipsos-Reid Toronto, On
2004 Jeffrey Cole Ontario College of Teachers Research Consultant Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board Barrie, ON
2003 Phillipe Straforelli Environics International Research Manager Synovate Inc Vancouver, BC
2002 John Barbaro Ipsos-ASI Research Analyst Planning & Evaluation Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit Barrie, ON
2001 Andrea Kilgour Ipsos-ASI Account Manager MillwardBrown Paris, FR
2000 Marcie Connan Northstar Research Consumer Research Manager Canadian Tire Corp Toronto, ON
1999 Pamela Ward The Strategic Counsel Senior Associate The Strategic Counsel Toronto, ON
1998 Gayle Percy Diane Mackie & Associates Secondary School Teacher Simcoe Muskoka District School Board
1997 Amanda Knight Simcoe County District Health Unit Vice President Noroo Online Research Barrie, ON
1996 Lynn Morris Olreich Consulting Mom & Home Ethnographer Charlotte, NC, U.S.A.
1995 Cynthia Dreher Commins Wingrove Advertising Manager, IT Advertising WW IMC Center of Excellence IBM Corporation New York, NY, U.S.A.
1994 Sandy Lavigne -- --