Matt James takes the reins at ZenithOptimedia with Ian Perrin offered new role within group

Matt James


Ian Perrin is to be replaced by Nine Entertainment Co’s group director of sales Matt James as CEO of media agency ZenithOptimedia.

Perrin has been in the role for four years, and is believed to have been offered an overseas role within the ZenithOptimedia Network.

Rumours about James returning to an agency role have been circulating for months. It is understood GroupM had picked him for the current vacancy at Mediacom but that the two sides were unable to agree terms. 

In late August, GroupM global president Dominic Proctor went on the record confirming they had found a new local boss to replace former CEO Mark Pejic, but declined to name who. However, no appointment has been made.

ZenithOptimedia, who are thought to have been in a bidding war with GroupM for James’ services, emphasised the transition had been “carefully-planned”.

Gerry Boyle, APAC chairman of ZenithOptimedia said in a statment: “I would like to thank Ian for his leadership, openness and close collaboration over the years. Ian had always been clear with us that he planned to move on after four years leading the business, and that time has come.

“We are so pleased to have a leader like Matt to succeed Ian, and I look forward to working with him. With ZenithOptimedia, our brand new performics business and the Match/Blue 449 proposition, we have a group that is in great shape for the future”.

ZenithOptimedia has had a difficult few years, with a number of major account losses including News Limited and National Australia Bank in 2012 and Lion, Nestle and most of the Qantas account last year.

Perrin also made headlines last year in the wake of the Nestle loss denouncing the “vicious cycle” of bitterness that he argued usually accompanies such business losses, and sending then MEC boss Peter Vogel a congratulatory open letter.

Ian Perrin, CEO ZenithOptimedia speaking at the 2015 Commercial Radio Australia conference 2015

Perrin speaking at the National Radio Conference last week

In the announcement, Perrin noted that he was proud of his time with ZenithOptimedia and said this year’s acquisitions of independent media agency Match Media, which will be part of ZO’s family under the Blue 449 brand, and last week’s performance marketing agency First Click left the agency in a solid position.

“I have loved my four years at ZenithOptimedia, and I am really proud of what we have achieved in that time,” said Perrin.

“We have made two strategic acquisitions in Match Media and FirstClick that will position the business strongly for the future; we have been the best performing media agency at the Effies for the past two years; and we have radically diversified our client mix with new clients complementing our longstanding portfolio. So with the foundations laid, the time feels right for me to move on to the next challenge.”

James has previously worked for the Publicis group having served as managing director of Starcom in UK and was rumoured to be a contender for CEO of Yahoo7 last year.

His departure was announced to Nine staff this afternoon with Nine sales boss Peter Wiltshire telling staff in an email: “Matt has been a great leader for both Powered and Mi9 and we thank him for his contribution, dedication and passion. We wish Matt all the best in his future endeavours and he leaves us in a really strong position, and for that we especially thank him.”

Nine said it had not finalised a replacement yet but hoped to do so in the next month or so.

Commenting on his appointment James said: “I am absolutely delighted to be returning to the Publicis Groupe family as the next leader of ZenithOptimedia Australia.

“I have had four fantastic years at Nine Entertainment Co. helping to lead both Mi9 and Powered to a number one market position in Australia, and now I look forward to reuniting with the agency network domain where I have operated for nearly 25 years.

“Ian will be handing over a business that is in great shape and I am excited at the prospect of what we will be able to achieve for both our clients and businesses over the ensuing years”.

Nic Christensen 


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