Media Director of the Year: everybody loves Sunni

The unforgettable name. The fiery-coloured suits. The extraordinary media savvy. Sunni Boot, president of ZenithOptimedia, has developed quite a reputation in the ad biz over the years. It's no surprise, therefore, that for the second consecutive time, she's been crowned the country's best media director.

The unforgettable name. The fiery-coloured suits. The extraordinary media savvy. Sunni Boot, president of ZenithOptimedia, has developed quite a reputation in the ad biz over the years. It’s no surprise, therefore, that for the second consecutive time, she’s been crowned the country’s best media director.

Those who have worked with her are familiar with her trademark gusto and business smarts. But how does Boot herself explain her continued success?

Well, it all starts with a pre-dawn walk.

‘I’m a morning person,’ she says. ‘I usually go for a power walk for about three-quarters of an hour just around my neighbourhood. It’s a mindwash. It’s a wonderful way to start my day…. And it helps me solve and crystallize things.’

Indefatigable, she admits to business days that start at 7 a.m. and run until 8 p.m., and has a preference for scheduling meetings well before 8 a.m. On a warm Friday morning in September, however, her first of the day is a 9 a.m. strategy meeting with about eight of her key team members. She, of course, is sporting a deep-red blazer.

Up for discussion is a look at the wide-ranging trends that will impact the agency’s big entertainment clients in the coming months. Over the course of the hour, the team talks about the country’s increasing ethnic diversity, the rise of home entertainment, the consumer’s demand for multidimensional family experiences and the increasingly definable Canadian identity.

Through it all, Boot listens, takes notes, cracks the odd joke and is unafraid to ask questions – no matter how small. So when consumption of celebrity gossip is highlighted as a trend to watch, followed by anecdotal mention of the new catch phrase ‘jumping the couch’ (a reference to Tom Cruise’s infamous Oprah episode), Boot admits ignorance…but only for a while. ‘I’m out of it,’ she laughs, ‘but I like [the quote] though,’ and jots it down.

That’s a small but telling example of what Boot herself says is the key to her – and by extension ZenithOptimedia’s – success: an unwavering receptiveness to new ideas. (See page 47 for case study.) ‘I’m relatively confident, which allows me the courage to take managed risks,’ she says. ‘I am comfortable pushing the envelope.’

As for the future of the agency, she, of course, is equally confident. ‘At ZenithOptimedia integration has quickly become an outdated notion replaced by interdependence,’ she says. ‘We see a future where our message is more than consistent across media; it’s interconnected. So we have tasked ourselves with broadening our view and expertise [because] today media is everywhere and everything is media.’

A day in my life. Walk in my shoes
…try not to step in too much doo-doo!

By Sunni Boot

AM
7:30-9:45 NABS executive meeting
10:00-11:00 Meeting with a university to do a taping for its marketing and advertising program
11:20-12:30 Internal meeting with staff re debrief on client fiscal communication plan

PM
12:30-2:00 E-mails, voicemail, general correspondence
2:00-3:00 Internal meeting re 2006 revenues and expenditure to prepare for 2006 business plan
3:00-3:30 Develop outline for business plan
3:30-4:00 Develop client presentation
4:00-5:00 Meeting with one of our media partners to finalize a package that involves two ZO clients
5:15-5:40 Phone messages
5:40-7:45 Work on two projects
Continue work on client presentation started at 3:30
Finalize document to clients regarding purchased/negotiated media package
8:10-9:00 Dinner and wine with husband on deck – beautiful summer night
9:00-10:30 Watch television
10:30-11:00 E-mails, voicemail, some correspondence
11:00-11:30 Read magazines in bed

Do it all over again the next day!