Agency Zambezi Repositions After Buying Out Kobe Bryant

Nine years ago, ad agency Zambezi launched in partnership with LA Lakers' Kobe Bryant, but now the agency is going in a new direction after buying out its founding partners. 

"Kobe is an icon," says Chris Raih, cofounder, CEO. "He is somebody who is incredibly bright, talented and driven and he will have great success with his endeavors -- including those around the Kobe brand. Zambezi is a communications company for consumer brands, and we are broadening our sweet spot beyond sports and entertainment.” 

Raih added that after a decade-long partnership with Bryant, “we mutually agreed to move in different directions. We wish Kobe nothing but the best.” 

This new direction includes a new leadership team.

Raih takes ownership of Zambezi and holds the CEO title. Joining Zambezi are Josh DiMarcantonio as executive creative director from 180LA, and previously with Deutsch LA and CAA. Also joining is Kristina Jenkins, who takes the newly created role of Chief Strategy Officer. She was most recently Culture Intelligence Officer at mcgarrybowen. Jean Freeman, previously director of operations, has been named Chief Operating Officer.  Meanwhile, Pete Brown has been promoted to managing director. 



"Zambezi is an agency that has always helped brands win, not just in categories but also in culture," says Raih. "Our ability to help brands will only be dialed up with the new talent we have added in the partner suite.” 

Separately, this week Zambezi is debuting new creative for the Jessica Alba-backed lifestyle brand The Honest Company. The "Transparent" TV spot shows a young girl wearing glasses that give her X-ray vision to convey  it is hard to know if products contain what they say they do. However, The Honest Company's cleaning products are always accurately labeled. The spot can be seen here.  

With all of these changes, the company name is the one element that is remaining the same during this transition. "The Zambezi name comes from the river in Africa, but more specifically the Zambezi shark," says Raih. "The Zambezi shark is an extremely resourceful and versatile being in nature. It can swim in saltwater into freshwater. Similarly, at Zambezi, we try to recruit versatile talent. We look for staffers who are able to perform more than simply one function. We demand that everyone in our company be creative, not just in the creative department."  

Located in Venice, CA, the agency's roster of clients includes TaylorMade-Adidas Golf, The Coca-Cola Company, Ashworth, Eastbay, 2K Sports, Popchips and Sound United, which recently named Zambezi agency of record.

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