Zenith’s history is one of media firsts,consistent growth:Tanmay Mohanty

Building on The ROI Agency positioning, Zenith recently unveiled a new global approach to communications, supported by a relaunch of the network’s brand identity, proposition and platforms with a new mantra: “We blend data, technology and brilliant specialists to scout out new opportunities, solve complex challenges and grow client business”.  

Called ROI+, the new approach has been designed to solve business challenges though advanced communications models. The approach has three key client benefits. First is the creation of ‘upstream’ strategies that deliver greater ROI through business transformation. Second is a focus on the full consumer journey in order to design personalised communication at scale. And third is maximising ‘downstream’ efficiencies through market-leading automation, such as machine learning. The new global approach and rebrand was developed by Zenith’s new Global Leadership Team working closely with leaders from Zenith’s key markets around the world, including USA, UK, Germany and China. Zenith also worked with a range of digital, design and consultancy partners on this key development programme.  

Tanmay Mohanty, Group CEO, Zenith India, said that Zenith now has an approach with three pillars, which is about delivering more effective campaigns and taking a longer-term consultancy approach and building long-term capabilities. He added, “This is the appropriate time to launch Zenith’s new proposition and brand identity in India. Our first pillar is our ability to create upstream strategies that deliver business transformation. For example, in ad-tech consulting, our upstream strategic development is greatly enhanced through ROI+. Second is our focus on the full consumer journey to deliver more effective communications strategies. And third is our market leading approach to maximising downstream efficiencies. ROI+ enables us to apply sophisticated automation through AI and machine learning techniques.” 

In conversation with Adgully, Tanmay Mohanty sheds more light on the ROI+ approach, the key objectives, Zenith’s three-pillared approach, growth plans and more. Excerpts: 

From the ROI Agency positioning to the new ROI+ approach – how has Zenith grown and strengthened its position in this period?
Zenith’s history is one of media firsts and consistent growth. We launched in London in 1988, created from the media buying departments of Saatchi & Saatchi, BSB Dorland and KHBB. We were the first media agency in the UK. We were pioneers when we launched and we are pioneers today. After the merger with Optimedia, ZenithOptimedia launched its unique and distinctive ROI Agency positioning in 2002. We have built on this and developed ever since. No other agency in the market has this level of consistency. 

We’ve had a very consistent leadership: Vittorio has been with the company for over 20 years. Steve King has been here since the start. Tim Jones and Gerry Boyle have been here since the early days. 

And with this consistency, we have combined continual innovation and invention. We were the first media agency to launch in China in 1994 and the first in the US in 1995. We were the first worldwide media dependent network. As the ROI Agency, we have consistently led the way with the smart use of data to drive creativity and ROI. You saw this last year with our world first in automating digital planning through machine learning. Invention will continue to be a key part of the new Zenith. 

What is the objective behind adopting the ROI+ approach?
Our new approach – and new identity – is about redefining and reframing ROI. For Zenith, ROI is fundamentally about driving top line growth. You can only drive growth through inventive and creative communications solutions. Our ROI+ approach focuses on the full consumer journey, delivering capabilities that fuel creativity. 

We have an important ambition to play the lead role in the full marketing value chain. To be a strategic partner to our clients, solving clients’ business challenges with communications solutions. Focused on the full consumer journey, creating and orchestrating a broad range of marketing capabilities. This ambition requires a more consultative approach. 

Zenith is taking a more consultative approach to solving business challenges for clients. But we are far more than management consultants. Our unique and differentiating advantage is that we are able to do all the work that delivers brand growth. We bring assets and capabilities at scale. Only an agency of the size, strength and experience of Zenith can do that. 

Could you elaborate on Zenith’s three-pillared approach? How will it benefit the clients?
Zenith used to have a roadmap approach to planning. This no longer supports our ambitions and our clients’ needs. We now have an approach with three pillars that’s about delivering more effective campaigns and taking a longer-term consultancy approach, building long-term capabilities. 

Our first pillar is our ability to create upstream strategies that deliver business transformation. Our ROI+ approach leverages the expertise we have in building capabilities for clients. For example, in ad-tech consulting, our upstream strategic development is greatly enhanced through ROI+. 

Second is our focus on the full consumer journey to deliver more effective communications strategies. In our consumer experience work, ROI+ helps us to shape a more holistic approach that can take advantage of people-based and platform-based marketing. 

And third is our market leading approach to maximising downstream efficiencies. ROI+ enables us to apply sophisticated automation through AI and machine learning techniques. We believe we are market leading in this area and last year announced a world first in automating digital planning through machine learning. 

What kind of growth are you envisioning for Zenith with ROI+?
The year 2016 was phenomenal for us, when we delivered high double digit growth. Zenith India won many businesses last year, which included Parle Products, Fox Networks, Toyota India, Singapore Tourism, Bombay Dyeing, etc. We also retained the Micromax business in a defensive pitch against some of India’s leading agencies. Performics.Resultrix won the Telenor and Lenovo digital mandates, among others. We expect 2017 to be far greater in new business wins, awards and performance on existing businesses. 

We recently won media duties of payments solutions brands Citrus Pay and LazyPay, part of PayU. There are other significant wins that we are in the process of announcing shortly. In awards, Zenith won the prestigious Festival Of Media Asia Pacific (FOMA) Gold for ‘Maggi Miss You Too’, in addition to other significant wins at Media Abby 2017, DIGIXX, Golden Mikes and Asia Pacific Customer Engagement Forum Awards. 

This was absolutely the right time to launch the ROI+ proposition. The ROI+ framework will harness the best of our capabilities in a fast changing external environment. India stands at an inflection point today. It is the growth engine of the world; one of the fastest growing economies. Government initiatives such as Digital India and Jan Dhan, coupled with greater penetration of mobile, rising broadband speeds, addressable systems, proliferation of platforms and technologies and demand for regional/local content are all dramatically changing the marketing communications milieu. There is great disruption taking place across brands, businesses and categories. A new eco-system is taking shape, which calls for transformative solutions. We at Zenith have a great part to play in this transformation. ROI+ leverages smart use of data and new technology platforms. It enables Zenith employees to think more like clients (advertisers). ROI+ allows Zenith to develop a broad range of capabilities and to be inventive. It allows us to take a more consultative approach. 

When you talk about creating upstream strategies, what are those?
Upstream strategies are simply the development of strategies and capabilities that drive long term growth. 

What is different from the old Zenith?
This is an evolution, but with revolutionary thinking. We are keeping the Zenith name. We remain the ROI Agency. Blue is still our primary colour. Everything else has been evolved, so we are ideally placed to exploit the opportunities of the future and deliver brand growth. We have a new proposition, a new way of working, a new brand identity, and new digital platforms (a new global website followed by new market websites). We have a new Global Leadership Team and nearly all of leaders across the markets within Publicis Media are rising stars that have been promoted. 

What is the new positioning?
Our positioning is the same – We are the ROI Agency. This is the most distinctive and respected positioning in the market. However, there is a new vision and new way of working: we blend data, technology and brilliant specialists to scout out new opportunities, solve complex challenges, and grow client businesses. 

What is your growth strategy for Zenith in India in the next five years? What would be your key focus areas?
Five years is a long time. But the focus for us as a group is on business transforming solutions or future ready services such as performance marketing, data and analytics and content. We will invest in talent in these areas and consolidate presence. 

What are Zenith’s growth projections for the Indian advertising industry this year?
Even with fresh estimates out, a 7.1 per cent GDP growth in 2016-17 is still a healthy growth rate. Consumer sentiment is getting back to normal and media spends in India will continue to be buoyed by expansion in regional print and television. Categories such as Mobile Wallets, Telecom 4G, Mobile Handsets, Fast Moving Consumer Goods and Consumer Durables will step up their spends. As India gets digitised, there will be more opportunities to tap into audiences and media spends will only peak. Digital remains one of the fastest growing mediums in India today, registering a 30 per cent growth rate. With sustained remonetisation, we do not expect any major long term impact on consumption or advertising. We still remain one of the faster growing economies on the world stage. 

What are the factors that could derail these growth projections and how likely are these factors to turn into reality?
India is a fast-track Asian economy. Fast-track Asian economies by definition are those that are growing extremely rapidly as they adopt Western technology and practices, while benefiting from the rapid inflow of funds from investors hoping to tap into this growth. Zenith predicted an 11.2 per cent growth rate for India, to reach Rs 54,344 crore in 2017. We do not see any factors that could derail these growth projections.

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