Media Director of the Year – Sunni Boot

It was a surprise to us, too. Some you know quite well; others, less so. So we're profiling the country's top media directors: tracing their careers, uncovering the secrets to their success and asking them to pick their proudest media coup of the past 12 months.

SUNNI BOOT, president/CEO, ZenithOptimedia

It’s no surprise to find Sunni Boot tops in this category again this year. Her enthusiasm for media is unflagging, and this, coupled with her boundless curiosity, has kept her at the top of her game.

When she started at Ronalds-Reynolds right out of high school, Boot knew nothing about advertising but almost immediately fell in love with media. ‘It was a summer job. It’s just been a long summer,’ she says jokingly. ‘To this day, I feel privileged and thrilled.’ In 1987, Ronalds-Reynolds merged into FCB, and in 1992 Boot formed Optimedia Canada as a stand alone media company. In March 1998, Optimedia was relaunched under the Publicis banner.

Today she may be CEO, but she definitely doesn’t just sit in the corner office running the company – in fact, her ‘office’ is in the centre of an open-concept space. And she remains very involved in her clients’ businesses. ‘You have to create the next new thing, look at things in new ways,’ she says. ‘Nobody is going to reward me for managing an office; they can hire an office manager for that. The executive team and I are hands-on.

‘Our clients, from CEO to assistant, all have accessibility to us as a company and as executives. It’s the same for our media partners and our employees – after all, we are in the service business. Let’s not forget that.’

Along the way, Boot has been active in furthering the industry as a board member for almost every industry organization, from the CMDC to BBM to the Canadian Film Centre. In 1987, she was one of the founders of the Concerned Children’s Advertisers. Boot has also grown up with several of her clients, including General Mills, Hasbro, and Nestlé, which have been with the agency since the 70s.

Boot attributes a lot of the agency’s success to its talented young people. ‘They wake up every morning asking, ‘What can I do for the client?” she says. ‘You cannot train for that. It’s that fire in the belly – you either have it or you don’t.’

Sounds like a pretty good description of Sunni Boot, doesn’t it?

Q&A

What are your strengths as a media director?

I honestly believe my success is because of our senior management team. We have been together for over two decades. It’s a huge strength. We are individually and as a group as excited and stimulated today as when we started. We love the business.

What media campaign from the last 12 months are you most proud of?

L’Oréal Luminato. When I found out about this wonderful medium called Luminato (a 10-day festival of culture and arts in Toronto this past June) – and because I work closely with L’Oréal on a corporate basis – it just seemed to me that there was a shared vision that the two could work together. I think I was more of a matchmaker than a planner in this case.

Seems anything and everything is a medium these days. Is this a good or bad trend? Where do you see it going?

Everything is definitely a medium. I don’t think it’s either good or bad; it simply is a trend. What I believe is going to be very important for us, as media people, is to do it appropriately and be sensitive to what that medium is.