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ZenithOptimedia’s new global network Blue 449 takes an ‘open source’ approach to communications, says MD James Shoreland

20 March 2015
ZenithOptimedia’s new global network Blue 449 takes an ‘open source’ approach to communications, says MD James Shoreland

ZenithOptimedia’s new global media network Blue 449 will meet the challenges that a lot of clients face in the digital world, and when they’re growing their businesses across different markets, says the new managing director for the agency, James Shoreland.

Launched this week, Blue 449 is the re-branded version of Walker Media which the Publicis network bought just over a year ago.

“We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what is it that we can do that explores the brilliance of Walker Media, rather than just launch another network,” said Shoreland.

“That’s when the team got together and thought about what challenges are effecting our clients and what products and services we can build around that.”

Blue 449 will have 17 city hubs by the end of this year and operate collaboratively with the other ZenithOptimedia brands: Zenith, Optimedia, Performics, Newcast, Moxie, and Ninah.

“17 sounds like a random number but we’ve been working on it for a long time to identify where the talent sits that can lead into this ‘open source’ approach,” said Shoreland.

“With these 17 hub cities we can operate in any market and execute any campaign. We will be able to identify clients and talent from not just the ZenithOptimedia group, but beyond Publicis Groupe itself. We will be able to organically build teams that can service clients globally.”

London will be the HQ for the network, and the network will be launching in Europe and America over the next couple of months. Later in the year will see Blue 449 roll out into Asia Pacific and South America.

“We’re getting together a really good, diverse bunch of talent that’s known for their collaborative skills and their diverse backgrounds. Some have been client side and some have been at digital and creative agencies,” said Shoreland.

At the heart of the network is its ‘open source’ approach to communications, which Shoreland says will be the key to connecting clients to the right talent and tech.

“The way it currently works is that we try and have the right people in the right countries to serve a client. We can work with our network talent to make sure that if you’re say, a really good strategic planner in a particular category in Germany and a client has that particular need in Madrid, then that doesn’t stop them from being able to work with that person who has the right experience.”

According to Shoreland, a lot of agencies are talking about owning certain types of skill sets and talent.

“Our clients know that this industry moves fast so they aren’t sure what talent and tools they actually need. Open source involves working with inside and outside of Publicis Groupe so we can always understand the talent and specialisation that is beyond our four walls.

“We are modest enough to know that there are some excellent specialists out there that we can bring to our clients in an objective manner,” said Shoreland.

Due to confidentially, Shoreland could not say what clients they are working with, but that they are working with both current ZenithOptimedia clients as well as new ones.

“Our ambition is to build multi-market clients that are new to the ZenithOptimedia world. We are in conversations with brands that are totally new to the group.”

In terms of the future for Blue 449, Shoreland is confident that it’s going to be long and successful.

“The way we look at the growth for Blue 449 is that I don’t think we’ll be working with the large standardised clients of the world. We hope to be seen as someone who helps clients to make that digital transformation.

“Our five year goal will be to have a clear point of view and continually have a reputation for bringing new solutions to clients and really living up to that open source approach. It may be that we grow to more than 17 cities as client demand and talent evolves.”

Shoreland will head up Blue 449 as managing director alongside global chairman Sebastian Danet.

Phil Georgiadis will join them as UK chairman along with other members of the Zenith Optimedia worldwide executive team in the leadership of the new network.

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Laura Bracher, London

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