If ever there was an agency with a plan, that agency is Media Zoo.
Media Zoo’s powerhouse MD Rachel Pendered speaks with infectious energy and enthusiasm about her company. It was born in 2003 from the team that produced BBC1’s consumer rights series Watchdog, who despaired as they saw big UK corporates flounder trying to defend themselves against allegations of malpractice.
Pendered figured it would be more fulfilling and constructive to be on the other side, helping FTSE100 companies communicate. Initially Media Zoo continued making broadcast programmes with Donal Macintyre, as well as corporate films for the Office of Fair Trading and others. But 2008 proved to be a watershed year.
Focus on corporate
Pendered returned from maternity leave enthused by mumpreneur role models. But she found work was not flooding in as brands cut spending in the global economic crisis. Media Zoo decided to focus solely on corporate communications. She doesn’t regret the move, finding the corporate world faster-moving than the long timescales of broadcast.
The strategy sharpened further around 2012 by concentrating on learning and education. Pendered vividly recalls watching a health and safety video when joining the BBC, not everyone’s idea of compelling TV. It stopped her in her tracks as she learned that good risk assessment saves lives every day. Even an apparently routine topic could command attention with well-crafted content. She wanted to bring the same powerful film-making skills to her clients.
The Media Zoo profile is a full-service comms agency, but film is at the heart of everything they offer. So much so that a panel of eminent comms directors judged them to be EVCOM’s Production Company of the Year in 2016 and 2017. Their winning streak at major brand video awards schemes is remarkably consistent since they appeared on the scene.
So this plan…
If Media Zoo do have a plan, what is it? Pendered talks of key cornerstones of talent and finance, and the two are intertwined.
The agency has built a strong financial position and its continuing growth is centres on identifying the right talent in certain strategic areas. The strategy is to offer skilled people the freedom to build a business within Media Zoo, while backing them in a way they could not do themselves.
She expects learning programmes to remain their core offering. The unprecedented pace of change in business means organisations need phenomenal education for their workforce. “The key is to understand what great learning looks like and how video fits,” she argues. “I believe Media Zoo fuses those two more effectively than other production agencies.”
It is unusual to meet a brand video producer who has such a clear sense of strategic direction. The plan has worked spectacularly well so far, allowing Pendered to invest in developing more services for clients and expanding into Scotland.
As for the future, you get the feeling that is part of the plan too.
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