Zeno Group: Agency Business Report 2015

Zeno Group hit its stride last year as a global agency.

CEO Barby Siegel
CEO Barby Siegel

Principal: Barby Siegel, CEO
Ownership: DJE Holdings
Offices: Global: 23 wholly owned; US: Chicago, Dallas, New York, Santa Monica, and Redwood City, CA
Revenue: Global: $39.9 million; US: $28.3 million
Headcount: Global: 276; US: 154

Zeno Group hit its stride last year as a global agency, posting overall growth of 11% compared to expansion of just 1% in its core US market. Seven new, wholly owned offices opened, and global staff climbed 20 to 276. Revenue for Asia-Pacific grew 75%, while EMEA was up 33%.

"Being a truly global midsize agency sets us apart," says CEO Barby Siegel. "There are so many more opportunities we can say yes to now. Even if a client doesn’t have global aspirations today, it’s important to know we can take them into worldwide markets in the future. We still and always will have very important local and one-market clients."

Influx of AOR assignments
New business with clients such as Anheuser-Busch, Hershey, Taco Bell, Amazon, and Starbucks subsidiary Teavana drove growth. Zeno picked up 40 pieces of business in total, 25 of which were AOR assignments. In June, Zeno picked up the global corporate account from CA Technologies, in partnership with Edelman.

Accounts that extended into new markets included Quaker, from the US to Asia, as well as VeriFone, Expedia, and Amazon, from the US to EMEA.

Far East Hospitality was a huge AOR win and Siegel says it reflects the type of work Zeno is winning in Asia: "Digital-centric and content-driven integrated campaigns, grounded in storytelling, that work across multiple channels and include heavy paid components."

The firm’s India office gained the most new business of all non-US markets, including a big win from Motorola. Plans this year include continuing to scale in Asia, Latin America, and Europe.

On the downside, the agency parted ways with long-term clients Office Depot (post-merger with OfficeMax) and Pizza Hut. Project work ended with Starwood Hotels and Virgin Group. Business with Apollo Group dried up. It also did less work with struggling Sears.

New York MD John Hollywood left Zeno in December without a job to go to – he was replaced by SVP of consumer marketing Thomas Bunn; Sarah Rosanova was also promoted to run the firm’s consumer practice. SVP Danya Proud left after just seven months, also without a job to go to, citing work-life balance as one issue.

Los Angeles MD Lisa Robinson quit last February and set up her own firm; Zeno brought on Heather Krug in May from Coyne PR to replace her. Zeno California grew overall, although Santa Monica struggled due to "staffing challenges" and an overall re-organization of the region.

New initiatives included The Human Project, which Siegel describes as proprietary research conducted with CEB Iconoculture into the behaviors that motivate people to connect with brands.

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