Zeno CEO: "We have cracked the code of what type of agency we are"

Firm grew 15% globally in 2014-15 and 33% in Asia, Barby Siegel tells PRWeek Asia during a visit to Singapore

Siegel: Fearless pursuit of the unexpected
Siegel: Fearless pursuit of the unexpected

Zeno Group is now "a strong global network" after growing over 15% worldwide and by 33 per cent in Asia during the financial year to June 30, according to CEO Barby Siegel.

Speaking exclusively to PRWeek Asia during a visit to Singapore, she said the firm had "cracked the code" of the type of agency it was—namely "an integrated communications agency, born from PR."

"We had a good year and we are firing on all cylinders. We have grown to become a strong global network," she said.

"We have cracked the code in terms of the kind of agency we are and the kind of work we want to do. Now that does not mean we all look the same all over the world, but it means we are all focused on integrated communications born from PR.

"In terms of Edelman, we’ve also cracked the code as a sister agency that is not better or worse, but different. We have our own culture and fill a niche in the market place," she added.

She said the firm’s approach was driven by aiming for game-changing work, but stressed creativity was pointless if it didn’t ultimately meet concrete business objectives for the clients.

"To come up with a big creative idea is brave, but to then say we are not going to go-ahead with that idea because it’s not going to sell more phones or tablets, bottles of juice or whatever is even braver. Our guiding light every day is the fearless pursuit of the unexpected, but it is not creativity for the sake of it."

"We recently restated our values; fearless, human, collaborative, true to our word and committed. This was important because we are growing and we have become a global agency. We have all seen companies grow and then lose their soul," she said.

She said the past year had been marked by the increasing diversification of the company’s talent pool, with more journalists, filmmakers, writers and creative directors joining the agency.

This trend shows no sign of slowing, she said, adding that one day the firm may even have an anthropologist on the staff.

"For a brand or company to be successful, it needs to make a human being feel that this group gets me. So why not?

"When you look at the winners at Cannes, the best campaigns started from a simple, human truth."

Siegel attended the Festival of Creativity for the first time this year and said the experience reinforced her belief that PR was now setting the communications agenda.

"For the first time, PR firms won the majority of the Lions in the PR category. And there were very well deserved Lions won by ad agencies with many of the ideas, yes, born from PR," she added.

"Finally, the core tenets of PR—trust, credibility, relationship building, advocacy and engagement—have found their way to the top of the communications pyramid. Brands, companies and organizations understand better today than ever the power of the earned brand and the power of highly engaged audiences to contribute and co-create along with us," she said.

"There is a difference between coming up with original ideas and simply amplifying advertising ideas. The former is our proven sweet spot."

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