Agency Profile: Zenith Media

At last, Rich Hamilton is in pictures. The CEO of Zenith Media U.S. is still smiling over his agency's April acquisition of a $180 million media planning and buying account from Miramax Films.

"We have had a huge passion to be in this category, and now we are in it with the leading studio in the industry," Hamilton said.

Zenith has had a hand in five of the top six advertising categories in the U.S., but had struggled to tap into the entertainment field. The agency had pitched the film divisions of the Walt Disney Co. and Sony in recent months, but lost out.

Those were about the only things that haven't gone right for Zenith of late. Last year the agency picked up a $120 million account from Pillsbury, the $60 million planning and buying business for Toyota's new Scion division, and new business from existing clients AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP, Georgia-Pacific Corp., Schering-Plough Corp., and HSBC Holdings plc.

"We have doubled the size of Zenith in the past four years, at a time when the industry was dead flat if not declining. We are increasing our market share, no doubt about it," Hamilton said.

In the face of economic adversity, while other agencies were and are struggling and some shuttering, Zenith has pressed on.

"The health of our company need not and should not depend on the health of the industry," Hamilton said.

Nonetheless, Zenith has succeeded in outpacing the industry for several years running. After winning a major piece of business last year, Hamilton asked the client what criteria they used to place Zenith on top. The client gave three reasons: first, that Zenith could deliver value and performance in the marketplace that was at least as good as the client could get anywhere else. Secondly, the client felt Zenith excelled in its systematic approach to media. Finally, Hamilton recalled, the client said that he felt he could trust Zenith management.

"In these situations, where the client is having to choose among a number of worthy finalists, it often comes down to things as simple as that," he said. At Zenith, Hamilton has developed a reputation of fair play and caring, both for clients and agency employees. A Princeton grad, he is known to stay in contact with former and would-be clients, a practice that has resulted in new business on more than one occasion.

Zenith Media is owned jointly by Publicis Groupe and Cordiant Communications Group. The New York agency boasts annual billings in excess of $6 billion and annual profits approaching $100 million.

Zenith Media Profile

  • Based: New York
  • Ownership: Jointly owned by Publicis Groupe (75%) and Cordiant Communications Group (25%)
  • Top U.S. Executive: Rich Hamilton
  • Annual Billings: Estimated at $6 billion
  • Major clients: Miramax Films ($180 million), AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP ($175 million), Pillsbury ($120 million), Toyota's Scion division ($60 million)
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