Zenith Media

Zenith Media

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Selected Zenith Media case studies

The former ZenithOptimedia was split in two in 2016 as part of a wider restructuring of Publicis Groupe's various subsidiary networks. Zenith Media is the shop which, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, more or less set the standard for what a modern media agency does, as one of the first standalone units to provide international media planning, buying, evaluation and co-ordination services independently of a traditional advertising agency. Eventually overtaken by the newly demerged US-based media networks, its merger with Optimedia, previously the media department of Publicis Worldwide, pushed it back into the top ranks. However recent performance has been a little rough, especially in Europe, where the network suffered a series of key account losses from 2013. The overhaul of all Publicis Groupe media operations in 2016 led to the demerger of Optimedia into smaller unit Blue 449, leaving Zenith as a separate standalone brand. (The Optimedia and Blue 449 brands were both later discontinued). Many of the old network's back office functions were centralised at the same time in a newly created Publicis Media umbrella company. For 2019, COMvergence estimated global billings of $9.5bn. It is the #2 media network within the group behind Starcom. For more than a decade Zenith (and before that ZenithOptimedia) has marketed itself as "the ROI agency", offering more bang for the buck than simply media planning and buying. Among its many additional services are market forecasting, content creation and strategic consultancy. Satellite units include US digital agencies Moxie and MRY. Long-serving Zenith executive Steve King is now CEO of the entire Publicis Media umbrella and COO of Publicis Groupe. Christian Lee is managing director of Zenith worldwide.

Capsule checked 30th April 2020

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Adbrands Daily Update 19th Aug 2019: Kellogg's announced the appointment of Zenith as its media agency for Australia & New Zealand, ending a 35-year relationship with Mindshare. However, the appointment has been surrounded by a certain amount of controversy. Neither Interpublic nor Omnicom agreed to participate in the review, and Mindshare declined the opportunity to defend the business. The reason was identified earlier this summer by Initiative CEO Mat Baxter, who told the Mumbrella 360 conference in June, "Just in this market, right now, there is a pitch going on for a consumer packaged goods client. The mandatory requirement to participate in that pitch: you've got to agree to 120-day payment terms and, if you don't, you're out. And I want to call out publicly Omnicom['s], PHD, who took a stand with us on not participating in that pitch. The really good agencies have got to start saying no." That 120-day payment arguably takes the demands placed by clients on media agencies to a new level. However, Kellogg's themselves said Baxter's comments misrepresented the process, though they also did not deny the stated terms.

Adbrands Daily Update 5th Dec 2018: The week got off to a great start for Zenith Media with the capture of two global accounts. Dairy giant Lactalis consolidated most of its worldwide business with Zenith, adding new markets including the US, UK and Australia to the agency's existing coverage. A day later, eyewear leader Luxottica transferred its own account to Zenith out of OMD. It includes the Ray-Ban, Oakley and Persol frames brands as well as retailers including Sunglass Hut and Pearle Vision.

Adbrands Weekly Update 9th Nov 2017: L'Oreal consolidated its media in France with Publicis Groupe. The business was already handled by Zenith, but Publicis will now build a dedicated agency under the banner Publicis iBeauty. Selected other markets are still in review.

Adbrands Weekly Update 24th Aug 2017: There was another blow for Publicis Groupe's media division with the loss of the global account for French healthcare group Sanofi, which had been managed by the old ZenithOptimedia network. WPP's Mindshare becomes the main global agency in all markets except the US and Japan, and WPP will also add selected, as yet undisclosed creative responsibility alongside global incumbents Publicis and Havas. In the US, Havas Media will take over full responsibility for prescription pharmaceuticals, as well as planning for Sanofi's consumer healthcare portfolio, recently boosted by the acquisition of the equivalent division of German company Boehringer Ingelheim. Buying for the OTC business will remain with independent agency KWG, which also hands most creative for that unit. Combined global spend is around €900m.

Adbrands Weekly Update 3rd Aug 2017: Only a week after capturing global media for the world's second largest luxury retailer Richemont, WPP also snared duties across the Asia Pacific region for the global #1, LVMH. Billings are estimated at around $450m. WPP will create a new dedicated agency, L'Atelier, to handle the business in all markets across the region except Japan, where it stays with a joint venture between Mindshare and ADK. The business transfers from Publicis-owned Zenith.

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