Dynamic Duos: A Pom and South African meet on a park bench…

This week in Dynamic Duos, Avenue C's digital directors, Mark Zala and Chris Zoomerschoe, reflect on how bonding over a book on a park bench resulted in a solid four-year partnership at Mediabrands, a predestined reunion at Avenue C, and a horse head mask on a 35-degree day.

In Dynamic Duos, Mumbrella each week asks two colleagues with a professional and personal affiliation to share with readers the importance of workplace relationships in an increasingly hybridised world of work.

Mark Zala:

Chris, or more endearingly referred to as Zoomers or Zooms, was one of the first people I met during my first week in a new country and a new industry.

It all started 11 years ago as I made the well-trodden path from the UK as a youthful, starry-eyed Pom, to the shores of Australia, and within my first week on the job, I nearly quit! Only one week into my first role in programmatic and I felt completely in over my head.

But then the tide started to turn after having a lunchtime conversation on a park bench with none other than Chris Zoomerschoe. He was also relatively new to the business, albeit with a couple more industry years clocked in, and he assured me it would be no time before I picked it up.

That really gave me the confidence I needed to persevere, and from there I never looked back. Funny how the most trivial parts of a memory stick with you; I was reading a battered-up version of “Marching Powder” at the time and Zoomers told me it was one of his favourite books. I remember thinking, the guy’s got taste and how can you not trust a South African, right?…

We spent the next ~four years working together at Mediabrands where Zoomers built the agency’s social product from the ground up and established himself as one of the most reliable, talented and trusted people in the industry.

He’s also one of the most selfless people I’ve ever met. No matter how busy he was he always had time to answer your questions and was so generous with his time. He was always so composed and when you’ve got a team of five people managing 300 active campaigns (aaaahhhh), that is no small feat.

As can happen in life, there was a brief parting of ways as Zoomers relocated to QLD and moved to another agency. A few years later, I also left and joined Avenue C, where not long after, our bromance was reignited.

When the partners at Ave C asked me who the ideal person would be to work alongside me to build our digital product, without hesitation I said Chris. The band has been back together for nearly three years and as long as Zoomers can withstand more terrible South African accents, merciless laughing at Man United’s expense and me continuing to share waaaay too much about my personal life, here’s to many more years to come!

Chris Zoomerschoe:

Mark and I were both fairly new to Australia and to the Australian media world, as we joined IPG MediaBrand’s trading desk, Cadreon in early to mid-2013. Due to the expanding size of the business at the time and the lack of space on our allocated floor I clearly remember Zala having to share two desks between him and two others, with him wedged snugly in the middle.

He managed to last about a week wearing very formal button up work shirts before he ditched the executive look in favour of the team staple of grey/black/white t-shirt and jeans!

We progressed through the ranks at Cadreon, both being managers of our relevant craft at one point before I departed Sydney to live in Brisbane.

We stayed in touch over the years, but one December afternoon as another year in a holding group came to an end, he called and we spoke for ages with him being so enthusiastic about the independent agency that he had joined with some other folk that we knew well from our time at IPG. It didn’t take much convincing for me to join him as it just felt right.

The thing most people will note about Zala is his continuous quest to reinvent himself and that is not just limited to his look but his diet too – over the years I have witnessed the clean shaven British guy with muscles; the bearded vegan; the rolled up sleeves of his t-shirt to exhibit the gun show guy; the top-knot/man-bun donning carnivore, and with the start of the new year, he has once again reincarnated his look.

But this time something more age appropriate.

While his looks fluctuate constantly, his skill as a digital media buyer is trending only in one positive direction and together we have been able to form a great partnership with very similar ideas and constructs around what is right for clients at Avenue C with us often playing good cop/bad cop with all that we encounter.

We each have a unique approach to how we deal with matters but ultimately end up at the same point and in agreeance. I believe that we are both more fully fledged marketers in our current role, being able to straddle both the performance and branding side of the advertisers we work with and surrounded by smart and amazing humans in all directions.

Mark on Chris:

Most memorable moment with Chris: Many that I can’t share, but in a professional capacity it has to be when we both shared the employee of the year award while working together at a previous agency. To be considered alongside Zoomers was a very proud moment for me, and I wouldn’t have wanted to share the award with anyone else.

Best word to describe him: Unassuming.

Most annoying habit or endearing behaviour he has: This one probably sits in both columns, but he’s annoyingly the nicest guy you’ll ever meet. I’ve never met anyone with a bad word to say about him, and believe me, I’ve tried to find them. I still have my suspicions that he’s a closet serial killer, as no one can be that nice all the time. But until I have concrete evidence, he’ll just be Zoomers, one of the smartest and nicest guys you could wish to work with.

Chris on Mark:

Most memorable moment with Mark: A group of us attended the rugby sevens tournament a few years back and despite all dressing up, as is tradition, Mark wore a horse head mask to further hide his identity. I’m still unsure why or who he was avoiding but it was about 35 in the shade, so seeing him suffer through it still sticks with me today.

Best word to describe him: Incessant.

Most annoying habit or endearing behaviour he has: His constant lack of appearance at every social occasion/meeting/lunch/drinks/Xmas party etc, etc.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.