Optimedia Prez Rooted In Zenith

NEW YORK Antony Young has spent much of his almost 20-year career with Zenith Media and the agency from which it sprang, Saatchi & Saatchi. His newest assignment is no exception: He’s tasked with repositioning Zenith sister agency Optimedia in the U.S. after joining as president in July.

“I see my role as the brand manager for Optimedia,” he said. That means developing a brand strategy for the agency and “making sure that the product lives up to the grand promise.”

Young, a native New Zealander of Chinese heritage, has had a good run with the Publicis-owned media network. A decade ago, he was named CEO of Zenith Media Asia. Before he could run it, he had to launch it, opening offices in a dozen markets there, including China. By the time he left in 2002, Zenith was the top-ranked agency in that country, according to billings tracker Recma. Focusing on strategic planning, he oversaw big account wins there that included Procter & Gamble, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, General Motors and Sony. “It was a phenomenal time,” he said.

In 2003, Young was named CEO of ZenithOptimedia U.K., where he had to combine the Zenith and Optimedia brands that were being merged into a single operating unit with a unique market “proposition.” His solution was to position ZO as “The ROI Agency.”

The 41-year-old has a passion for basketball, which he played at Rongotai College in New Zealand. As he explains it, basketball was easier for a “skinny Chinese kid” to excel at than his native country’s national sport, rugby. With plans to settle his family in New Jersey, Young said he’s rapidly becoming a Nets fan.

As he plots a new course for Optimedia, Young is also writing a book about marketing and communications strategy to be released by Kogan & Page in the U.K. for the spring 2007 college semester.

Why advertising as a career? “There’s no sort of grand-worthy reason other than it looked like a fun place to work,” said Young. “And I haven’t been disappointed.”