For Optimedia, It’s Now All About The Planning

To address confusion created by ZenithOptmedia’s two-pronged marketplace approach, Optimedia has just unveiled a plan to redefine its position in the U.S. with a focus on strategic planning.

The agency, whose clients include Nestlé and Maybelline, has brought over Chris Pyne as director of integrated communications planning. Pyne had been at ZenithOptimedia in the U.K.

It’s been five years since Publicis established Optimedia as a companion shop to Zenith Media in the U.S. One reason it was created, by way of a merger with another Publicis agency, DeWitt Media, was to house then-new client T-Mobile, an upstart competitor to Verizon and a key Zenith client. But while the agencies operate independently of one another in this country, they are managed as ZenithOptimedia, a unified network, in most markets outside the U.S. This has led some to question just how independent the domestic operations of Optimedia really are, ZO officials have acknowledged.

The idea, according to Optimedia’s president, Antony Young, is to turn the company into a strategic specialist along the lines of a Naked or Anomaly, but one that’s bigger than most boutiques and that can also implement plans with a buying unit that’s also being reorganized. The agency has current annual billings of around $2.1 billion according to RECMA, a French company that tracks media agencies. Zenith, the bigger agency with more than $6 billion in U.S. billing, per RECMA, positions itself as singularly focused on ROI.

Young, who joined Optimedia U.S. as president this summer after a three-year stint running ZenithOptimedia in the U.K., said that four months of talking with clients led him to conclude that what they need most is help with strategy. “So that’s where we’re going to focus,” he said. “And a big part of that strategy is driving integration throughout the communication planning.”

On the buying side, the role of evp Larry Novenstern has been expanded to oversee a new department called NewCast that merges the broadcast and emerging media operations. “It’s a better way to integrate the new and traditional channels, and it will help us work better with the media companies,” said Young.

Optimedia’s repositioning is being punctuated with a new graphic makeover that includes a redesigned Web site, logo, stationery and business cards.

Tim Jones, CEO of ZentihOptimedia U.S. and the executive to whom Young reports, acknowledged that up to now the two shops were probably aligned a little too closely in the market.

“There’s an opportunity for us to increase our market share by having two media agencies with separate and distinct identities,” he said. “This new positioning for Optimedia really speaks to sort of challenging the status quo, doing things differently and always looking for a better way.”