NEW YORK--Edelman sister firm Zeno has tapped John Kerr and Steve Earl to lead its global expansion, which will include seven offices outside the US, including five in Asia.

Kerr shifts from Edelman, where he was Asia-Pacific head of digital, based in Singapore. He takes charge of a significant Asia-Pacific presence that numbers 58 employees, across offices in Beijing, Jakarta, Singapore, New Delhi and Tokyo.

Two existing operations will be rebranded under the Zeno banner: Stratcom in Indonesia, and Edelman Blue in China, pending government approval.

In London, former Speed co-MD Steve Earl comes aboard as European MD, overseeing an office in London and a satellite presence in Amsterdam.

Zeno is currently in the process of appointing local market heads. Kerr confirmed that Amit Misra would occupy this role in India, as reported by the Holmes Report earlier this year.

Both Kerr and Earl report to Zeno CEO Barby Siegel, who has led rapid growth at the agency since joining in 2009. Zeno forecasts revenues of $20m in 2012, up 43 percent on 2011. The expansion takes Zeno to 188 staffers across 11 offices.

Key international clients will include Procter & Gamble in China, which has been handled by Blue, a separate company under the Daniel J Edelman holding group. Edelman currently has an existing global alignment with Unilever.

Other core clients are Autodesk, Emirates Airlines, Facebook, Frisian Flag, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, RPX, SK Planet and Vertex. In London, Zeno already represents a major pharmaceutical company as part of a network-wide global assignment. As in North America, the firm will work across consumer, health, technology and corporate affairs, 

Siegel said that Zeno would not position itself as a conflict agency to Edelman, but would instead rely on its distinctive culture to attract clients.

“The way we have built our brand in the US is by having our own culture, our own reputation and a real understanding of what the Zeno brand stands for - fearless, nimble, a challenger brand mentality,” said Siegel.

“If we behaved like a conflict agency, frankly we would not have experienced the growth we have,” she added. “We are different. The biggest difference is our size. Because we’re smaller, we can move faster, we can give a different type of service.”

Kerr noted that 65 percent of Zeno’s business would be digital from the outset. “We are building an organisation that we feel is already moving towards the space where most clients want to build greater capability.”

Siegel added that many Zeno executives bring “big-agency experience”, in a “smaller, more intimate environment.” She said that the firm would look at launching in France and Germany within the next couple of years, but would be “disciplined” in its approach to international expansion. “We’re fearless, not reckless.”