Transforming a brand from unfashionable to desirable is a key part of ZenithOptimedia’s business. Notable launches by the media agency include “Go Fun Yourself” – the campaign to make the Toyota AYGO appeal to a younger generation. The strategy worked – sales of the car increased by 66 per cent on the previous year.

At the heart of this global company’s success is talent. “Talent underpins everything we do – people are our most important commodity,” says Audrey Lucy, Chief Talent Officer for ZenithOptimedia. “We’re looking for the specialist graduate who also has a breadth of knowledge. An individual who has a true depth of knowledge but also a broad enough understanding of other areas and has exceptional skills so they can operate in a constantly transforming world. It’s about combining the creative with the analytical – and it’s in the middle where we are creating the magic.”


A variety show

ZenithOptimedia started in 1988 in a converted warehouse. Today it employs more than 7,000 staff in 74 countries, with dozens of big-name clients including Aviva, RBS, Lexus and Gucci. A few years ago a graduate’s career path would have been to join the agency and train in a single department. Now, new recruits at ZenithOptimedia benefit from a rotational system – spending six months in one department then moving on to another.

“By getting variety, they learn what resonates most, be it media planning, or the trading department,” says Lucy. “And we get to grow the leaders of the future.”

Sharing skills and expanding knowledge is all part of the experience for ZenithOptimedia employees. Each receives training at the company’s digital academy. The company also runs Live My Life, a programme where staff live with a colleague for two weeks in another part of the world, such as Mexico City or Seattle. The aim is to take a skillset and share it with another market around the world, and competition for places is fierce.

“It really is a life-changing experience and people learn so much from being immersed in someone else’s life,” says Lucy. “The colleague hosting them has to ensure they have a full experience, not just at work but outside by seeing the sights and meeting their family. They bring back everything they’ve learned and share it with the agency – it’s a real differentiator.”


Happy returns

ZenithOptimedia positions itself as “the ROI agency”. Getting a “return on investment” defines everything the company does, from getting the best results for clients to getting the most out of the individuals the company recruits. To achieve this aim has meant diversifying so that the focus today is on recruiting strategists and data scientists, people with technical skills that did not exist before in a media agency. “We effectively created the media agency as it is today,” says Lucy, “and we are always looking to reinvent it so we can give clients the best advice as they travel with us on their consumer journey.”

Long-term relationships have been fundamental to ZenithOptimedia’s growth from its modest beginnings 29 years ago. Those relationships exist not only with clients but also with staff who get all the support they need to reach their potential and for their talent to shine through.