Zulu Alpha Kilo is a highly regarded independent owned and run by admired creative director Zak Mroueh. He launched the agency in 2008 after a nine year stint as the top creative at Taxi. He was widely credited with putting that agency on the map as a creative force before his departure in 2007. Intended at first to be little more than a boutique agency, ZAK has expanded considerably as a result of major account wins including Bell and Audi. Controversially, it resigned the Coca-Cola account after four years in 2014, on the grounds that it wasn't the right fit. The agency determinedly works against the grain of the wider industry. It maintains a strictly limited client list and refuses to promote itself along traditional lines. Instead ZAK has adopted a position as a sort of tongue-in-cheek spokesman for the industry as a whole, launching a series of campaigns mocking the less acceptable aspects of the business, for example, in a widely admired move, those clients who demand "on spec" creative work for free. The agency also bans all internal emails outside working hours, and its reception area features an ongoing painting first started by Mroueh in 2008 to which all staff and visitors are invited to contribute. It has been a work in progress for 10 years. (Even even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has left his mark on it). The agency's website is also a deliberate parody of traditional ad industry sites, including fake profiles of supposed principals Frank Zulu, Katherine Kilo and Marcus Alpha. (Mike Sutton is the real president of the agency, alongside CEO & CCO Mroueh). Branded content unit Zulubot launched in 2014, and is responsible for much of this satirical content. In 2017, Ad Age selected ZAK as its International Small Agency of the Year for the second consecutive year, and in 2018 the agency was named as one of Canada's Best Managed Companies by Canadian Business magazine.
Capsule checked 21st July 2020
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Adbrands Daily Update 22nd Jan 2020: "Cure Boredom Fast". Here's proof that we haven't seen it all before. Displaying their customary creative brilliance, Canadian indie Zulu Alpha Kilo delivers a note-perfect parody of pharmaceutical ads for Subaru's new Impreza. Such a clever idea, carried off with an exceptionally witty script. There are a couple of shorter executions as well, displaying other symptoms of the kind of boredom the Impreza is designed to cure. "If you find yourself replying to spam you may be experiencing symptoms of boredom. Try fast-acting Impreza... May cause reliability and frequent bouts of punctuality." Fabulous!
Adbrands Daily Update 1st Nov 2019: "Billy's Lemonade". Canadian agency Zulu Alpha Kilo is renowned in the local industry for its uncompromising commitment to independence. It's definitely worth spending some time exploring its hilarious parody website, which pretends that the agency is run by stereotypical ad-hacks Frank Zulu, Marcus Alpha and Katherine Kilo (rather than real-life founder Zak Mroueh). Inbetween work for top clients like Subaru, Tim Hortons and Corona beer, the agency also issues occasional satirical films roasting what it sees as the evils of the modern marketing industry, like unpaid spec work or gruelling ad pitches. This latest hilarious mini-masterpiece tackles the horrors of agency buyouts. Anyone who has ever sold their indie agency to one of the big holding companies will know exactly where this film is coming from. Completely brilliant!
Adbrands Social Media 30th Mar 2018: "Coffee with Neighbours". How well do you know *your* neighbour? For Canada's leading coffee shop chain Tim Hortons, agency Zulu Alpha Kilo invited random householders to come have a coffee with a neighbour they'd never met before. Inevitably, it's all a bit awkward to start with, but then everyone ends up being the best of pals. That's a big positive, especially in a neighbourhood like this one where everyone comes from different racial or national backgrounds. It's a sweet, and commendable, idea. We should all try it.
Adbrands Weekly Update 26th May 2016: Ads of the Week: "The Surprise". Here's a lovely little film from Canadian independent Zulu Alpha Kilo for financial services client Interac. It's beautifully observed - I think we all know what this kid is going through - and the final surprise is a real charmer. Even if it just proves that, actually, parents don't actually understand their children at all!
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