Gold – ZenithOptimedia

Gold - ZenithOptimedia

ZenithOptimedia is tops again, likely because it is never content to rest on its laurels. Over the past 12 months, its raison d’être has become, more than ever, to get close to the consumer, thanks to a new proprietary system being used by the global network that places the consumer at the heart of the planning process. The system is new to the network and is now being used to shape 2008 plans.

‘We put ourselves in the consumer mindset as we look for communications vehicles,’ explains agency president and CEO Sunni Boot. ‘[Our goal is] advocacy. We want these consumers to be advocates of our brands.’

ZenithOptimedia was already consciously working to engage consumers. A good example is the year’s highlight: L’Oréal’s involvement with Luminato, the 10-day festival of arts and creativity held in Toronto this past summer, which showcased consumer interaction with the brand. The cosmetics giant was the fest’s ‘partner in creativity,’ which is an extremely powerful sponsorship line, says Boot. Add to that the shared values of the partners – creativity, diversity and accessibility – and the pairing is even stronger.

In addition to participation in all of the event’s advertising, brochures and PR, there were special brand experiences developed for several of L’Oréal’s brands, including Vichy Carnivalissma. It included a healthy skin in the sun centre with a kid’s learning zone and on-site photos to show consumers the sun’s UV damage on their skin. Redken and Maybelline New York enhanced their hip and urban brand positions with an on-street hair salon and makeup studio featuring haircuts and makeup demonstrations. The Garnier brand participated in the opening night of the festival with a concert and a Garnier oasis offering fruit smoothies inspired by the fruit essences of the products.

‘The festival was the medium,’ says Boot. ‘[L'Oréal] activated Luminato activities that aligned to both the creative aspects of the festival and the individual brand values.’

Along with training staff to think like consumers, for the past few years ZenithOptimedia has been casting a wider hiring net to attract different talents to the agency. Boot says that while mass touchpoints are still important, it’s not enough in today’s complex world. To that end, the agency has been building its digital group as well as bringing in people to complement its abilities in multimedia and experiential programs. One of the new hires is Judy Watson, who arrived in August from Canoe to be director of ZED Digital. On the account service side, David Hall joined in June after five years at Rogers as promotions director. He oversaw integrated brand strategies.

A lot of the top campaigns out of ZenithOptimedia this year reflect its increased focus on experiential and digital work. For example, an online push for Nestlé Singles – single portions of Aero and Kit Kat bars – featured characters for each brand and an opportunity for consumers to send candy e-grams with messages to their friends. The agency also helped Hasbro celebrate the 50th anniversary of Play-Doh with a campaign targeting both kids and parents. Online and on-air messages were synchronized, and on the experiential side, Play-Doh sponsored a mall tour for kids and their moms.

On the business side, while it lost Pfizer as part of a global review it did not take part in, most of the agency’s growth has come from existing clients. It will also be busy working on new client 20th Century Fox and defending its Media Agency of the Year title, of course.
Locations: Toronto (top left), Montreal (right), Vancouver
Number of employees: 125
Notable clients: Nestlé, L’Oréal, HP, General Mills, Kia, CIBC, Wal-Mart Canada