Profile: John Zimmerman

Jun 16, 2003  •  Post A Comment

John Zimmerman is president and chief creative officer of O2ideas, a Birmingham, Ala.-based advertising agency founded in 1967, which currently has approximately 100 employees and $80 million in annual billings.
The agency represents Expo Design Center, a division of Home Depot, Verizon Wireless, Honda Manufacturing of Alabama and Saks Department Store Group, among others.
The new big thing on the horizon is the advent of sponsor advertising in electronic video games, Mr. Zimmerman said. Adding ads to games is “already a trend in the Far East and Europe. … We also see satellite radio and TV becoming more of a mainstream medium for advertisers. For example, more and more automakers are installing satellite radios in automobiles in addition to traditional car radios. We definitely see more wireless and satellite advertising for our clients.”
He wishes he had bought a little less of broadcast television. While it is the mass medium, it continues to lose share of viewers,” Mr. Zimmerman said. Broadcast is “too much of a numbers-buying game vs. utilizing specific programming that promotes quality and speaks to the consumer rather than a `number.”’
Not surprising, given his view of broadcast, Mr. Zimmerman also wishes he had bought more cable television, “Especially CNN, Fox News, CNBC and MSNBC. There [was] just so much available, especially this past March and April. Cable continues to pick up viewers and increase [its] share of TV viewing.”
His most interesting recent deal was an “extended holiday promotion” that brought gifts to kids at Christmastime-“So many gifts that our clients have to arrange for warehouse storage and truck delivery service to accommodate the enormous volume. Other companies support the program through donations and media support, and the local television station develops the on-air messages for each of the participants,” Mr. Zimmerman said. “It has helped to bring the community together during a period of giving and family gatherings and helps children of all ages, regardless of family income, to experience a truly happy holiday.
Mr. Zimmerman loves the media buying business, with its negotiating challenges and urgent client needs, he said, but if he had more time he would “write and compose more music … finish the two books I am writing and travel for fun.