’Before we start, I want to make it clear that we’re married with
children,’ jokes Caroline Walton, lest readers suspect that her close
relationship with Julia McNally is anything other than platonic. It’s a
fair comment, as these two are definitely joined at the hip.
The pair formed their online planning and buying outfit ZnSpace last
September, but have worked together since 1996, when Walton was sales
development manager and McNally was head of sales at VNU New Media.
However, they bonded even before that - when McNally worked at Executive
Recruitment Services, Walton met her to flog VNU’s jobs site. ’Sparks
flew over a curry in Hemel Hempstead,’ Walton recalls.
Their experience at VNU convinced them to start their own business.
McNally comments: ’We were dealing with so many crap agencies that we
became convinced we could do it better. We even decided to become
pregnant at the same time so we could get it out of the way before
setting up the company,’ she adds, with a twinkle in her eye.
In the end, Walton took maternity leave first, followed by McNally, so
it was almost two years before they could put their plan into
Now they handle around pounds 2 million of online business from clients
such as Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Records, Sharwoods and Avis Europe.
Like all great double acts, they have distinct personalities. McNally,
who bears a passing resemblance to Geri Halliwell, is your funky,
creative, party-all-night type, while Walton’s sensible fringe marks her
out as the straight woman.
’Julia is very ideas-driven,’ confesses Walton. ’She likes to get out of
the office and network. I have more attention to detail and won’t go
ahead with the big idea unless I am confident we can deliver on it.’
Now they’ve crossed over from sales to buying, have they become
’We can see why sales people perceive some media buyers as arrogant,’
McNally admits. ’But that’s because we ignore those who don’t think
things through. There’s no point just sending us a list of your sites
and clickthrough rates. We don’t have a reach mentality. We want you to
work with us to come up with original, relevant ideas.’
The ZnSpace team consists of five women - ’We are thinking of forming a
girl band,’ cracks McNally - but they are keen to recruit a male media
executive, ’as long as he’s gorgeous and switched-on’.
Scuba diving (Walton)
Boring lists of sites.