After almost a decade of association and working together at a project level across strategy, creative and digital, independent agencies Step Change and The Zoo Republic have agreed to formalise their relationship via a merger.
Big picture this means strategy will stay under the specialist Step Change brand, with the digital and creative capabilities of Step Change moving over the road (literally) to strengthen the offering of The Zoo Republic.
Says Ashton Bishop, CEO, Step Change: “After 10 years we wanted to go deeper into strategy, and up our execution excellence. The Zoo was the perfect partner to help transition our clients to the new model and provide the strength of client service and relationship management we were after. Culturally, and reputationally we’d always loved and admired the work the Zoo did and how they did it — so much we decided to formalise things and merge those offerings.”
The Zoo will lead, house and resource the digital and creative business formally serviced by Step Change, with key Step Change staff moving to the Zoo, leaving Step Change to focus and double-down on its pure-play strategic offering.
At Step Change, founder Ashton Bishop will remain sole executive director while co-founder Jeff Cooper and head of digital, Rob Steers will take this opportunity to pursue other ventures. Creative director Adam Searle will move to the now bigger Zoo agency led by David Lo and his long-serving MLT. With the departure of Steers, Amandine Saille is stepping up to lead the digital team and manage the integration with The Zoo. Over and above all of the commercial, creative and digital benefits of the new look Zoo, the reunion of Lo and Searle sees them back together again after both working on Pepsico Restaurants/Yum! Brands KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell some 20 years earlier; Singleton, Ogilvy & Mather for Searle and promotional partners for Lo with Pizza Hut and KFC being the foundation clients in 2009 when Lo left promotional partners and started The Zoo.
Says Lo: “This was an incredibly easy and logical deal for us to do when presented with the opportunity. The digital capability is what we have been trying to develop for a while now and this simply fast-tracks that ambition. The Step Change team making the move has a proven track record in digital strategy, digital marketing planning and implementation and optimisation across all channels and platforms (paid media, website UX/UI, CRO, SEO, content, email and marketing automation) and digital and omnichannel campaigns.
“When we combine the Step Change and Zoo creative firepower and go-to-market messaging capability with their digital expertise we now have every capability The Zoo gets called on to deliver all under one roof. This will truly integrate our capabilities and provide a powerful offering for each agency’s existing and new clients. With multiple existing mutual clients where we already collaborate, and a solid understanding of each other’s culture and way of working, I am incredibly excited about the future.”