Zenith's Matt James chosen as Publicis CEO

Arvind Hickman and Pippa Chambers
Matt James is the new CEO of Publicis Media.

Zenith's Matt James has been named CEO of the newly formed Publicis Media brand and Starcom's Chris Nolan is the new chief operating officer.

James and Nolan will assume oversight of Publicis brands Starcom, Zenith and MediaVest across Australasia as part of a broader global restructure. Joining the leadership team is Pauly Grant, who has been named chief talent officer.

James and Nolan will relinquish their day-to-day duties at Zenith and Starcom, which will now be managed by office MDs.

Speaking to AdNews, James said he was “very excited and charged about the Publicis Media construct”, adding that having experience working across both Starcom in the UK and on a global level, as well as ZenithOptimedia, gave him both the local and global insight to run this “future-facing organisation”.

While overseeing all brands, Zenith will no longer have its own CEO, and will instead carry on being overseen by Zenith Sydney MD Karen Halligan and Zenith Melbourne MD. Nolan will also report in to James.

James and Nolan will establish Publicis Media practices across the four agency brands. These include data, technology and innovation; business transformation; analytics; research and insight; business development and communications; content; trading and buying, and performance.

“Publicis Media was launched with the vision to get to the future first and in Matt and Chris we have two dynamic and incredibly talented leaders who will ensure we do just this,” said Gerry Boyle, Publicis Media APAC CEO.

“I’m excited to be working with both of them as we deliver on our promise to invent modern approaches to gain efficiency, create greater collaboration and effectiveness and drive new levels of scale and client value.”

James has worked in the global media business for more than 25 years. He became CEO of ZenithOptimedia last year after more than four years at Mi9 and Nine Entertainment Co. He arrived in Australia from Starcom UK where he was managing director and has extensive global media agency experience.

Publicis Groupe bought independent media agency Match Media for an undisclosed sum in June 2015. Due to the "unique structure" during Match Media's period of earn out over a number of years,  its CEO John Preston and Match will continue to report directly to Gerry Boyle, CEO of Publicis Media APAC. While Match will not report to James, it will collaborate and share opportunities with Publicis Media that benefit their people and clients.

Last month Publicis Group announced it had restructured its global media into four arms as part of its group-wide transformation initiative.The revamped structure will see global media for the group consolidate, with its six media brands moved to create four.

Speaking on his appointment as Publicis Media CEO James said: “The launch of Publicis Media in Australia and New Zealand creates a contemporary business construct for our brands and practices.

"I’m delighted to have Chris in partnership, he is a fantastic operator and highly respected leader. The opportunity for us to unite our assets and harness the considerable talent across our businesses under Publicis Media will ensure we continue to offer our clients a comprehensive, progressive and dynamic proposition.”

Nolan has worked at Starcom for more than ten years joining as Managing Director of Melbourne and rising to become national CEO, a role he has held for the past three years.

“The opportunity to grow our client business by bringing together all the capability across our four brands under Publicis Media is a great one,” Nolan says.

“Publicis has made a significant investment in the leadership team across Australia and New Zealand and I am proud to be part of that team.” 


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