About Kym

Entrepreneur | Author | Photographer

Kym Illman is an Australian entrepreneur, best-selling author and photographer.

Born in Adelaide, South Australia, Kym is the son of a former state cricketer and a small business owner. Kym credits his parents with instilling in him the qualities of persistence, intensity and curiosity. This and his passion for finding the often overlooked opportunity have helped him develop into the trailblazing entrepreneur he is today.

In his early years Kym travelled around Australia with roles as a mobile DJ, radio announcer in Darwin and audio engineer at Channel Nine. In 1988 he struck out on his own and founded audio advertising company Messages On Hold.

Kym’s dedication to customer service and his famous ambush marketing tactics turned Messages On Hold into an international success. With offices in Australia and Singapore it now services clients in 18 countries.

In 2014 Kym released his book The Future IS Customer Service. In 2015, drawing from his decades of customer service experience, Kym founded Canity, an online customer service training platform. Kym channelled his knowledge into engaging, animated micro-learning videos, to provide time-poor business owners with a flexible, affordable way to train their staff.

Today Kym divides his time between his position as Managing Director of The Message Group and his many passions, in particular photography. In 2015 Kym and his wife Tonya released
African wildlife photography book, Africa On Safari; a German-language edition was later published by National Geographic.

Since 2017 he’s turned his attention to Formula One photography. Kym is one of just a few dozen (and the only Australian) “permanently accredited” F1 photographers. His unique take on covering the sport photographically has resulted in him quickly amassing a large social media following with images uploaded live from the track over the 4 days of an event. He is also one of few photographers to offer digital copies of all of his images for personal or editorial use via his photography website site: www.prostarpics.com

A father of two and husband of one, he’s also a devoted community caretaker, highly regarded for his promotion of WA coastal town Lancelin and his commitment to the Lancelin Pirates Football Club. In 2014 he published the photo book Lancelin: Western Australia’s Coastal Gem and he also runs the tourism website www.lancelin.com.au.

Married to: Tonya Illman
Children: Two
Career Highlights:

– Messages On Hold
– The Message Group
– Canity

Author Credits
– The Future IS Customer Service
– Africa on Safari
– Lancelin: Western Australia’s Coastal Gem

With photography, every day brings something new. I try to capture the new with new angles and new technology to get something unseen – something striking.

Ambush marketing put Messages On Hold on the map. Bloody effective… if you have balls of steel!

Good customer service is like a bolt from the blue: It’s unexpected and leaves you speechless. I love it.

Paris Baguette TVC


In September 2011, a South Korean advertising agency commissioned Kym to program an unforgettable synchronised Christmas lights display for a national TV commercial.

Ambush Marketing

Subi City 1

The simple and sometimes controversial marketing strategies that earned Kym the title of “Australia’s most prolific ambush marketer”.

Online Training


Kym is the founder of Canity – an online collection of training videos that helps businesses create stronger relationships with customers and bridge skill-gaps amongst staff.

MOH Racing


High intensity footage, images and stories of Kym’s rally driving career piloting a Mitsubishi EVO 9 in various Targa events.

Kym In The Media


As Australia’s most notorious ambush marketer, Kym Illman has made regular appearances on Switzer TV, CNBC and Sky Business.

World’s Best Christmas Lights


Drenched in LED lights and synchronised to music, Kym’s lighting displays have raised tens of thousands of dollars for charity. His 2011 display became an international hit with millions viewing it on YouTube after Ellen DeGeneres featured it as her video of the week.