King Crowned as Global CEO at ZenithOptimedia

19 March 2004

Publicis Groupe has appointed Steve King (44) to take the global helm of its ZenithOptimedia network.

Formerly the agency's ceo for Europe, Middle East and Africa, he becomes global chairman/ceo in place of company co-founder John Perriss, whose resignation, reported last week [WAMN: 12-Mar-04], arched more than a few eyebrows around the media parish pump.

The reasons behind Perriss' departure remain interestingly vague. In his own words: "It has long been my intention to cease fulltime executive employment at the age of 55 years, and I am now approaching my 56th birthday … I'm comfortable taking my leave in favour of a limited number of non-executive roles as well as being able to devote more time to my private interests."

With annual billings of $16 billion (€13.04bn; £8.77bn), ZO ranks sixth in the global media agency league, numbering Mars, SC Johnson and Toyota among its clients.

The appointment of King, reportedly a "close ally" of Perriss with whom he co-founded the merged ZO agency in 2001, will be reassuring to staffers, many of whom were rattled last week by rumours from New York that Perriss' departure presaged a merger with sibling Publicis network Starcom MediaVest.

There was the usual exchange of eulogies.

Perriss: "I am delighted Steve is to take on my role. As well as being highly regarded and respected throughout the ZenithOptimedia global network, with a reputation for effective client service, Steve is also a very charismatic and personable leader."

King: "I'm obviously delighted and eager to meet the challenges of this position. John has helped this company achieve tremendous momentum, and I share his determination to preserve and enhance ZenithOptimedia's status."

"All's well that ends well," as some bard or another once said.

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff