Zenith reveals new strategic leadership team

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 5 September 2016
Zenith's new strategy leadership team.

Zenith Australia has finalised a new strategy structure that will see eight senior strategists lead four disciplines: insights, strategy, innovation and communications planning.

This year, the agency has brought in talent from various organisations, including Nine Entertainment Co and Bohemia, to bolster each of the disciplines.

It's another evolution in the agency's structure following the arrival of chief executive Matt James. James, who was group director of NEC Sales at Nine Entertainment, took over as CEO from Ian Perrin late last year and then in April this year, he was named CEO of the newly formed Publicis Media brand and Starcom's Chris Nolan is the new chief operating officer.

Karen Halligan, managing director at Zenith, tells AdNews the strategy team will operate as a central hub and provide much stronger support to client teams across the agency's portfolio.

"When I first came into the business we didn't have a very strong strategic offering, the innovation department was one person and we needed to add resource in that area," she explains.

"That team is working with all of our client service teams on all of our strategic responses. This will drive greater creativity and provide more structure and a much stronger focus on an ROI delivery outcome.

"We've been getting really good feedback from our clients and I feel the quality of the work the agency is putting out is stronger than previously...we're definitely starting to feel the difference and going from strength to strength."

Five recruits, four disciplines

This new insights division is now charged with unearthing deep consumer insights to help support decisions across the agency, from marketing strategy to investment.

It will be led by Zenith's human sciences director Claire Taverner, who joined the agency six months ago as insights lead at brewer Lion. She will work alongside research manager Lavanya Ashok, who has previously worked at insights consultancy Jigsaw and MEC.

Zenith's strategy team aims to “fuse the science of data with the art of human insights and cultural trends to develop genuine and relevant consumer connections”. In other words, using data and creative thinking to develop client solutions.

It will be led Sydney strategy director Mark Krebs, who joined Zenith earlier this year after leading strategy at Nine Entertainment Co. He will be joined by strategist Daisy Gun, who was previously partnerships manager within Zenith’s Newscast services.

Innovation will be led by Zenith's chief innovation officer Kate Evans, who was brought in five months ago from Nine Entertainment Co, where she was national client business director.

She will be joined by innovation director Rosie Plunton, who joined from Bohemia three months ago where she was a business director.

Jonny Cordony, national communications planning director, will lead the fourth discipline, communications planning. Cordony joins from Bohemia, where he was a group business director four months ago.

He works alongside long-service Zenith talent Alison Holland, who has stepped up to communications planning director.

Together they are responsible for leading the planning process, embedding tools and internal training to ensure crafted communication excellence to all clients.

Speaking to AdNews after taking the top job, in terms of priorities, James said he would first and foremost be looking to get to grips with the foundations that Perrin has laid, as well as the current clients' needs. But, as with any new leader, he would be taking a look at talent and structure within the agency, how it is harnessing global assets, and new acquisitions and new business down the track.

In March this year Publicis Group announced it had restructured its global media into four arms as part of its group-wide transformation initiative. The revamped structure sees global media for the group consolidate, with its six media brands moved to create four.

In the new model, the agency network full names of Starcom Mediavest Group and ZenithOptimedia Group were retired. In addition, Vivaki capabilities were integrated into Publicis Media’s Global Practice model.


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