Gerry Boyle, ZenithOptimedia

ZenithOptimedia has promoted one of its old hands, Gerry Boyle, to the role of Chairman, Asia Pacific. Even as the role is newly created at the agency, Boyle would essentially fill in the gap left by the exit of Phil Talbot, CEO, ZenithOptimedia APAC.

Boyle, who has been with the agency for 14 years, is at present the Worldwide Managing Partner and Chairman for ZenithOptimedia UK. He is expected to relocate to Singapore by August 2013 to take on the new role. He would continue to report to Steve King, CEO, ZenithOptimedia Worldwide.

King, in a press statement, has expressed “delight” on the “well-deserved promotion” of Boyle. “APAC is the most dynamic, exciting and challenging region and it is critical we have the right leadership to help the network and our clients succeed. Gerry has unrivalled talent and experience of driving effective product and strategic change, and I am certain that our business in APAC will see the benefit of Gerry’s leadership skills,” King said in the statement.

King perhaps sums it all when he defines APAC as a “dynamic, exciting and challenging region”. And there are at least five areas that would keep Boyle busy when he takes on his new mandate.

1. Recharging the APAC growth drivers
APAC may well be one of the growth markets for ZO globally. But there are three big regions that can prove critical for APAC’s ability to contribute to global revenues – China, India and Australia. For ZO, China has been a bit of a mixed bag. Where the agency’s Live ROI (return on investment) offer has been appreciated, big new wins are still to come to add to its momentum in the way that can be expected in China. In India, ZO has been a late entrant and much of its strength is still concentrated in one market (Delhi). Australia has been one of the strongest markets for ZO but in the last year, the region has faced its share of client retaining and new win challenges.

What would be Boyle’s strategy to re-energise these markets and convert them into growth drivers for APAC.

2. Thought leadership in digital
Most agencies lately, have built focus on developing their digital portfolio and ZO is not behind on that front. However, the agency’s operations in the western markets appear to have covered more ground than APAC in developing digital capabilities. Another challenge facing Boyle is to be able to ingrain digital expertise at the agency’s core in APAC.

At the same time, a part of Boyle’s new mandate includes acquisitions, and mostly these tend to be digital. What would be Boyle’s strategy to grow digital organically and inorganically at the agency and ensure co-existence of cultures in an otherwise fragmented digital world.

3. Acquiring regional businesses
Unlike most of its competitors that enjoy various large businesses such as Unilever, P&G, GSK or L’Oreal as their regional clients, ZO needs to focus on building its portfolio of regional businesses so that it could accelerate growth and along with it leverage the benefits that come from regional accounts, where learnings and risks are shared.

4. Regional leadership team
One area to watch out for is Boyle’s ‘A’ team. Agencies such as Mindshare, Maxus and OMD have looked to India to create a talent pool for its regional, and more recently even global, operations. The big advantage from looking across markets is to bring in fresh blood and new thinking to an agency’s approach. How will Boyle address the challenge of catering to the changing needs of clients by making the most of the best of talent available to the agency? How will Boyle ensure fresh thinking in the agency’s offer?

5. Being part of a media holding company or parent company structure
ZenithOptimedia and Starcom MediaVest Group are amongst those agencies that have advantages of combined buying through VivaKi Exchange, but the role of a holding company or an equivalent can be seen in the manner GroupM and Omnicom Media Group support their operating units or agency brands. One part of the challenge that Boyle can face to grow the operations is how does he make the most of best of what VivaKi has to offer.

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