What’s in a name?

You're chief creative officer of one of the world's top shops. You're credited with helping propel the agency onto the world stage. Heck, you're
an equity partner.
But then you quit and walk away. So what happens next? Well, rumours, speculation and a long, long list of potential names for your new shop. We checked in with ex-Taxi creative guru Zak Mroueh on the names that didn't make the cut and the industry rumours that never materialized.

You’re chief creative officer of one of the world’s top shops. You’re credited with helping propel the agency onto the world stage. Heck, you’re an equity partner.

But then you quit and walk away. So what happens next? Well, rumours, speculation and a long, long list of potential names for your new shop. We checked in with ex-Taxi creative guru Zak Mroueh on the names that didn’t make the cut and the industry rumours that never materialized.
Zak’s shortlist of names:

‘From the moment I left Taxi, I started obsessing over what to call my start-up.

I had written the vision, but the name was proving elusive. I’d spend afternoons in coffee shops with a notepad. I’d give myself deadlines like, ‘By the time I finish drinking this coffee, I have to come up with 20 more.’ I wasn’t sold on any of them. Eventually I registered one, but then, just before launch, I pulled the plug and went back to the drawing board.’

SWAY ‘Some zig, others rethink, we ‘sway?’ Felt too close to two agencies I admire.’

STORYZ inc. ‘Seriously considered it, but too obvious.’

ZAK INC. ‘Not my style to be so overt. And besides, hundreds of
‘Zak Inc.’s registered.’

Z inc. ‘More subtle and a viable option, but taken.’

LUV ‘Liked the positive vibe, but too soft.’

M.O.T.H. ‘An acronym for ‘Mroueh Or The Highway,’ my nickname at Taxi.’

BAD COP ‘Too negative, and didn’t feel like a nice place to work.’

HACK Advertising ‘Thought I’d take the piss out of myself and the industry. Wasn’t brave enough.’

TEQUILA MONSTER ‘Named after the band I had in high school. Cool, but not right.’

ZULU ALPHA KILO ‘Through serendipity, I credit my best friend’s son and my wife with the inspiration for the name. Despite everyone telling me it would be ‘too weird’ for clients, I knew it was the one. It had a subtlety and a unique quality that felt right. My name was on the door, but in an understated manner. Incredibly, I was able to rationalize it in a way that felt almost eerily preordained. It kind of wrote itself.’
Top five rumours about Zak’s plans après Taxi:
1. Zak is starting a restaurant.
While it’s true that Zak loves to cook (and Zulu Alpha Kilo’s boardroom is a kitchen), it turned out to be the first of many false rumours.
2. Zak is teaming up with Paul Leblanc. The Extreme Group president had set up shop in Toronto around the same time Zak left Taxi, but Mroueh/LeBlanc never materialized.
3. Zak is opening up Crispin Porter Bogusky/Toronto. It’s true that Chuck Porter had talked to Zak in Cannes last year. ‘You guys are the Crispin of Canada,’ he said. Zak cheekily replied, ‘You guys are the Taxi of the States.’ End of story.
4. Zak is working for Leo. Turned out the last time Zak dropped his book off at Leo was in 1989, when he was trying to land a writing job under then-CD Tony Houghton.
5. Zak is starting his own shop. ‘I’m looking forward to a new AD-venture in 2008,’ he said in a press release last year. How much more obvious can you get? We have the winner!

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