Bronze ZenithOptimedia


"It's looking for accountability in everything we do"
by samantha yaffe

Times have never been better for ZenithOptimedia, which this year saw exponential organic growth and huge gains in new business. It was also the media agency behind one of Canada's most exciting interactive media campaigns.

The company, which added the Zenith name this past spring to reflect parent company Publicis' global merger of its media operations (it inherited Zenith in spring 2000 when it acquired Saatchi & Saatchi for a reported $2.4 billion), has grown every year since it launched in 1998 when Wal-Mart was its sole account.

Today ZenithOptimedia boasts a diversified client base of about 35 companies, covering almost every category. Key clients include General Mills, Nestlé, Hasbro, CIBC and Hewlett-Packard.

This year, however, the company was perhaps best known for brokering the L'Oréal and Canadian Idol partnership. "Three million people voted on Canadian Idol this summer. We were reaching an entirely involved audience," says president and CEO Sunni Boot. "How much more proven measurability could you ask for? That's the excitement of the future."

Riding high on the success of the show, which saw L'Oréal's huge risk pay off in spades, ZenithOptimedia is doubly elated over having recently won two new giant accounts: the $28 million Pfizer Consumer Healthcare account, which includes such brands as Listerine, Reactine and Benylin, and the Priszm Brandz account, which includes KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, and has an estimated value of close to $28 million as well.

The Pfizer account was the result of what Boot describes as "the most in-depth review I've ever been involved with. They looked at our entire system, our credential list, and had us show them what we can do by giving us two cases."

ZenithOptimedia's only loss in 2003 was Shaw's Star Choice account, which has an estimated value of $9 million. It went to Toronto's Due North Communications, which was already handling Star Choice creative.

"It was not a huge loss for us, in that we didn't have to let anyone go, but it did hurt," says Boot. "We nurtured that account for almost five years. We felt so strongly about it, we would have put satellite in every household across the country if it would have helped, but it's a struggling category."

On the positive side, "all our other clients were very successful this year, investing in more media and new ideas."

"We're very fortunate that we're a European-based company. Publicis is used to dealing with unique situations because every region is so distinct in Europe, so with everything they develop, we are brought to the table. We don't just Canadianize models."

What is universal for ZenithOptimedia, and the rest of the media agencies under the Publicis umbrella, is a commitment to increased proprietary research and exploiting the systems and tools made available through the size and magnitude of the entire operation.

Such research, tools and systems are what help make ZenithOptimedia "your ROI agency," a positioning the company launched last year and continues to build on going forward.

But how, exactly, does ZenithOptimedia purport to offer a higher return on investment than its competitors?

"Through our efficiencies, our creativity and by working more closely with clients to orchestrate campaigns so you can read results, not just track awareness," says executive VP and COO Debbie King. "It's looking for accountability in everything we do."

Online game generates Honey Nut buzz

How can you make your cereal brand stand out in a saturated supermarket aisle? How about getting kids to spend an hour or two playing with your brand on their home computer? For the "Race for the Taste" multimedia campaign, ZenithOptimedia and client General Mills applied their expertise to the online world, giving birth to a profitable partnership with

The goal
To identify, develop, and manage a partnership with a parent-approved online property that would help increase awareness and sales of the Honey Nut Cheerios brand among the eight-to-12 demographic.

The strategy
ZenithOptimedia and General Mills decided to partner with, a top L.A.-based Web site for kids featuring close to 150 online games. In return, the Honey Nut Cheerios campaign would help direct Canadian kid traffic to the U.S. site.

Using television, online and on-pack promotion, the strategy was to capitalize on the partners' leadership in their respective categories to create entertaining and involving content that captures the attention and imagination of children.

The execution
Ads appeared on the cereal box directing consumers to where they could play a game that, among other activities, would have them feeding their NeoPets Honey Nut Cheerios and interacting with the Honey Nut Bee.

In addition, a "rare item code" was included in the box, giving consumers special access to the online game - so the game acted as the premium giveaway.

A television spot promoting the offer ran from October 2002 through January 2003. It included a 20-second brand sell along with a 10-second tag driving kids to the Web site, where they could also download the commercial.

The results
• General Mills increased desired awareness and sales of Honey Nut Cheerios among eight-to-12-year-olds
• "Race for the Taste" generated more than one million game plays, 30 times the level seen by other games on the NeoPets site
• The partnership provided new metrics for benchmarking game play conversion rates (because an online game had never been used as a premium before)
• At the conclusion of the game, the user can forward an electronic greeting card to friends, challenging them to play the "Race for the Taste." Similar programs usually see about 10,000 cards sent out - this program saw over 80,000 Neo cards sent
• Tens of thousands of visitors downloaded the commercial
• NeoPets gained its desired Canadian traffic and awareness SY

Copyright © 2003 Brunico Communications Inc. All rights reserved.