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What Anita Zanesco brings to Clemenger BBDO as its first chief growth officer

By Amit Bapna | APAC editor-at-large

July 31, 2023 | 4 min read

As agencies go toe-to-toe to win and retain clients in a testing market, the chief growth officer is in hot demand. The Drum meets the first incumbent of the post at one of Australia’s major shops.

Getting to know Clemenger BBDO's first CGO

Getting to know Clemenger BBDO's first CGO

Clemenger BBDO, the Australian arm of the creative network BBDO, has announced several organizational changes since Dani Bassil took charge as chief exec in January 2023. Among them is the appointment of Anita Zanesco, formerly of Trinity P3 and Havas, as the network’s first chief growth officer for the offices in Melbourne and Sydney.

Zanesco’s arrival has been announced alongside the additions of two new managing partners, Georgie Winton and Anita Deutsch-Burley – making it a powerful team “of three women who are phenomenal forces, talented, smart, energetic and fun,” per Bassil. But it is the introduction of the chief growth officer role in particular that has caught the eye.

Zanesco will be responsible for the pursuit of new clients but also the development of existing ones as the full-service agency ramps up expansion across capabilities including experience design, CRM, data, and production. “The big piece will be around how we package that up in its entirety to the market,” she tells The Drum.

With multiple offices across Australia and new business coming from various places, she adds that the task will be around ensuring it’s a seamless, streamlined process. The agency has enjoyed recent wins across the government portfolio, PZ Cussons and ASD (National Cybersecurity).

“Even though business growth has always been important to the agency, creating a dedicated CGO role cements the agency’s commitment to ongoing exponential growth,” says Zanesco, expanding on the role’s relevance.

Going by the number of agencies recruiting for chief growth officers, as well as the spending squeeze facing adland's major agencies, the role is in great demand.

Marketing departments have evolved post-pandemic, channels continue to become more fragmented, budgets in categories like tech are leaner and agencies have to focus on new growth areas with a smarter and more strategic business plan. As Zanesco puts it: “A dedicated resource focused on bringing about growth makes business sense so that CEOs and client partners can focus on the business of running an agency and nurturing and growing existing clients who make that business so successful.”

Though the role has been around in the UK and US for decades, due to the comparatively small size of the Australian market, until recently new business and growth were managed by the chief exec and their senior leadership team. That seems to be changing now.

Zanesco is a certified organizational coach and feels that helps make her more effective in the workplace. While she has always loved “the people side of this wonderfully diverse industry that attracts such an eclectic group of clever, talented humans but adding a layer of organizational coaching skills on top of that has been transformational.”

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