Campaign Digital Awards 2006: Digital Achiever of the Year

Martin Brooks chief executive, Agency Republic and Zulu.

Most people in this business are happy with one job title. And, certainly, most digital bosses are happy with just one agency. Martin Brooks not only has two job titles, but oversees five agencies - a stable that is set to grow.

Brooks, in an almost unprecedented development, was handed a blank cheque-book at the end of last year by Omnicom to build up its below-the-line operations - meaning all things direct and digital.

A major advertising network placing such faith in someone from the murky world of below-the-line is rare. Over the past year, Brooks - having already set up the very successful Agency Republic - has been the guiding and arguably pioneering, force behind Zulu. Brooks cuts a much more business-like figure than many of his contemporaries in digital, known as much for their "yoof" style and uncouth haircuts than their ad strategy. This goes some way in explaining Omnicom's unwavering trust in him.

Zulu signals a whole new approach to the million-dollar question agencies have been grappling with for the best part of a decade: how do we deal with digital?

Whereas WPP has its dotcom namesake, and IPG, Omnicom and Aegis all have digital brands housed within their networks, Zulu, thanks to Brooks, is doing things its own way.

Zulu is an umbrella brand which houses a number of specialist agencies. At the moment, the direct shop Claydon Heeley, where Brooks worked for years, Agency Republic, the mobile specialist Ipsh, the sales promotion specialist Alcone, and the technology expert Code, sit within the family. They bridge skills into other agencies - not just Omnicom ones - as and when they are needed.

Omnicom is perhaps right to leave the architecture of its below-the-line talent in Brooks' hands. In another life, he was responsible for bringing together another stable of talent - he used to jam with Thom Yorke and introduced the singer to his current band Radiohead.


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