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Zenith main government Natalie Cummins: receiving forward, flexibly | Advertising and marketing

Brightly colored printouts cover the partitions in a assembly home at Zenith UK’s London headquarters, remaining behind from planning for the preceding week’s pitch, which observed the media company fight it out in opposition to two rivals to earn the business enterprise of a speedy-foods customer.

Now the wait around is on, laughs its chief govt, Natalie Cummins: “We now have a week or two of agonising above the abide by-up communications and striving to go through into anything at all they say to you, so you can endlessly speculate.”

She is hoping the business will come to be the 84th customer at Zenith, becoming a member of what she calls an “eclectic mix” that ranges from young upstarts this kind of as social media app TikTok to additional standard businesses these kinds of as Reckitt Benckiser, maker of Dettol and Durex.

If you’ve seen an advert on tv, in the web pages of the newspapers or on a billboard for organizations including Lloyds Financial institution, Carpetright, or Nestlé, Zenith will have performed a major role in getting it in entrance of your eyeballs.

Cummins has led the media agency – aspect of the French advertising big Publicis – considering that 2018, serving to it realize £418m of billings final 12 months on your own, according to Nielsen’s once-a-year league table. Individuals figures are all the extra impressive provided she has juggled her job with becoming a lone parent to a few children less than 13, a element that influenced her company’s full embrace of versatile doing the job even ahead of the pandemic.

So what specifically does Zenith do? “We strategy and get promotion on behalf of big customers,” says Cummins, sitting down in its offices in the stylish setting up in White City that was at the time BBC Tv Centre. “I say planning and acquiring, since you just cannot just go out and acquire a load of things: you have to work out what you are striving to do with this advert. Are you trying to get young folks to reappraise the brand name, or are you seeking to get all people to know there is a new orange model of this kind of and these types of?”

Though creative companies make the precise adverts, media corporations these kinds of as Zenith handle a client’s total media budget, “which is much, much, a lot even larger than what it price tag to make the ad”. As small as 2% of a company’s budget could go on the creation of an advert, Cummins suggests. “The rest of it is what we do.”

A obvious and direct communicator, Cummins talks enthusiastically about the media obtaining industry – wherever she has spent her complete job, virtually all of it at Zenith – which she suggests is “so significantly fun”.


CV

Age 47
Household A few youngsters: John, 13, Albert, 11, and Agatha, 7.
Education and learning In depth school in Abbey Wood, London, then a BA in social and political sciences at Fitzwilliam School, Cambridge.
Final holiday New York.
Pay out Not disclosed as Zenith is not a publicly listed firm.
Most effective tips she has been offered “Be great at something which is not just your job” – smart terms from a former manager. Cummins adds that it is important to “be very good at a thing, and have a skill not everybody has”.
Most important job blunder “For a yr I labored at a imaginative company. I could have sat at dwelling watching telly for all I uncovered. It was a superior company but I really should have stayed in my lane.”
Text she overuses “‘Ace’ and ‘what’s the grabber?’ when carrying out a pitch. It is the opening slide that will allow you to chat about the topic in a much more summary way.”
How she relaxes “Trash novels” by authors such as Jackie Collins and Jilly Cooper. She also goes for a each day run and watches Enjoy Island.


The company was introduced in 1988, as the media arm of advertising heavyweight Saatchi & Saatchi in London. It merged with Optimedia following Publicis’s acquisition of its mother or father in 2000 and relaunched as Zenith in 2016.

In a planet generally dominated by suits, the 47-calendar year-old stands out in her bright yellow polo shirt, dim shorts and sandals. And as adverts go, Cummins herself is an inspiring illustration of occupation progression.

She joined Zenith fresh new from Cambridge University – she was the initially individual from her south-east London comprehensive to get a area – and in two many years experienced labored her way up from setting up workforce assistant to the prime position.

Cummins had been chief government for significantly less than a year when the pandemic took keep, throwing the full overall economy into a tailspin. Now, growing inflation is fuelling fears about the economic outlook. Inspite of this, Zenith stays optimistic, and not long ago forecast that the advert sector would stay potent this calendar year in the British isles and past: it predicts advancement of 8%, even with the financial headwinds and expense of dwelling disaster.

Late last 12 months, less than Cummins’s leadership, Zenith designed waves when it won the Lloyds Banking Team account from larger competitor MediaCom. This was a important earn for the “small team” behind Zenith’s pitch, and Cummins’s proudest instant at the enterprise: advertising and marketing insiders report that Lloyds – the UK’s largest home finance loan lender – invests about £80m per year on media, when its yearly report demonstrates it expended £161m on marketing and advertising in 2021.

When Covid hit, Cummins and the rest of her 550-sturdy workforce experienced to change, like most of the nation’s business-based staff members, to operating from residence. But this was less of an upheaval for Zenith and other Publicis companies than it might have been, as they experienced presently introduced a adaptable functioning design in 2018.

“We utilized to speak about work-lifetime stability, and we started to chat about function-lifetime blend,” Cummins states. “Actually you really should mesh the two issues around just about every other.”

Many ideas about how to put into practice these sweeping improvements – which incorporated no established times in the office – arrived from a panel of the business’s rising stars. 1 of their major strategies was for all staff to be provided a laptop, to help distant performing. These selections paid dividends all through the pandemic.

Cummins provides: “It felt ridiculous even in 2018 to be declaring you can do matters that assist your psychological and physical well being only at specific instances. If heading for a run is your issue and it can make most perception for you to do that at 11am, not 12.30pm, just do that.”

Zenith says this adaptability has been perfectly obtained, resulting in a churn level – the proportion of workers who come to a decision to leave – that is decreased than the business regular.

Considering the fact that starting to be boss, Cummins has been a vocal advocate for the value of office adaptability, as a lone parent to two sons and a daughter. “I know what it’s like to be juggling loads of factors: if you’ve got parents’ night, or an assembly and your daughter really desires you to be there. If I’m not there, no one’s there, so for me it is truly important that I have that harmony.”

“It’s not just about young ones,” Cummins adds. “Everyone has shit heading on, and folks frequently do their jobs improved if they are not experience beneath shitloads of pressure all the time. Which is just a fact.”

Cummins’s tactic is considerably from 2nd mother nature to a lot of main executives, or in truth a lot of employers, but she sees it as a “no-brainer”. “If you support persons come across methods to make everyday living superior, they are possibly going to be happier at do the job and be improved.”

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