Zenith has won the Media Week Awards’ Agency of the Year during the first day of a two-day online awards show.
The Publicis Groupe media agency also won the hotly contested Media Leader of the Year prize, which went to chief executive Natalie Cummins.
The judges chose Zenith as the year's best agency for delivering compelling client work, an "unparalleled year of new business wins", and meaningful efforts to improve its diversity and inclusion.
Despite the severe economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Zenith managed to increase its billings in early 2020 compared with the same period last year. In the second half of 2019, the agency brought in an impressive amount of new billings from brands such as Disney, Three Mobile, Macmillan, RBS Ventures, 888 Bingo and Eurowings, with no losses, and also grew like-for-like revenue. For the first time, non-traditional revenues, from areas such as consulting and data products, overtook traditional commissions and fees.
Cummins, a Zenith stalwart who joined the agency more than two decades ago as a graduate, was awarded Media Leader of the Year, a unique category that is informed by a public vote and decided by a panel of industry leaders. She triumphed in a five-strong shortlist, thanks to the turnaround in business performance she has overseen at Zenith.
The judges were also impressed by her partnership-led approach with clients, such as reducing or deferring fees for more vulnerable clients in return for new (often Covid-19-driven) assignments. Cummins also oversaw the launch of two new data products in 2020, based on econometric data and search bidding.
Manning Gottlieb OMD was awarded Best Agency Partner, a special award from Reach Solutions that is drawn from a vote of media owners. The Omnicom agency also won Gold in the Best Use of Data for Audience Buying category for its "Unlocking first party data to drive growth on the high street" work for Specsavers.
PHD, Goodstuff Commuications, and OMD UK were the most-awarded winners for top prizes across individual categories today, with each agency scoring two Gold awards apiece.
Due to social-distancing measures, this year's winners of the awards are being announced in a digital ceremony taking place over two days. The second half of the announcements will be unveiled on mediaweekawards.co.uk at 4.30pm on Thursday (15 October).
Each category is judged by senior leaders and rising stars from across the UK commercial media industry as Campaign invited all the winners of this year's Media Week 30 Under 30 talent contest to be judges.
The judging panel was co-chaired by Kate Waters, director of client strategy and planning at ITV, and Matt Adams, global managing director of Brainlabs.
To see the winning entries that were announced today, including all gold, silver and bronze awards, visit campaignlive.