The New Collaborators: Zulubot

Agile production model meets clients' time-sensitive needs
To capitalize on the rabid appetite for all things Raps, Zulubot created a social campaign that recalled that very famous dinosaur movie for Tim Hortons in just 24 hours.

To capitalize on the rabid appetite for all things Raps, Zulubot created a social campaign that recalled that very famous dinosaur movie for Tim Hortons – in just 24 hours.

When the Toronto Raptors were making their now legendary run for the NBA championship, marketers were working overtime to find ways to capitalize on Canada’s infatuation with the Raps.

The challenge was that during the playoffs, things moved quickly, and the outlook changed after every game. So, speed to market was key for brands looking to make a mark.

Tim Hortons was able to respond to the Raptors’ success in real time by working with Zulubot, the content production arm of Zulu Alpha Kilo. To mark the team’s first appearance in the NBA Finals, Zulubot produced a simple but effective clip for social media that signaled the Raps were coming for the defending champs, Golden State Warriors. The piece evokes a famous movie scene with a pair of coffee cups on a dashboard shaken by incoming dinosaurs. It was posted on Twitter before Game 1 of the Finals with the text: “From prehistoric to historic. Let’s go Raptors!”

It came together in less than 24 hours, thanks to Zulubot’s always-on dedicated, social production team.

Zulu Alpha Kilo has a history of short films sending up the ad industry. Its most recent, produced by Zulubot and its in-house director, tells the tale of what happens when an agency sells out, as told through the lens of a kid’s lemonade stand.

Zulu Alpha Kilo has a history of short films sending up the ad industry. Its most recent, produced by Zulubot and its in-house director, tells the tale of what happens when an agency sells out, as told through the lens of a kid’s lemonade stand.

Zak Mroueh, CCO and founder, says the video wouldn’t have been possible if his team had approached the production conventionally. The in-house production was set up in a few hours and shot in Zulu’s parking lot. “We had to move at lightning speed.” he says. “This was only possible because our production team was one floor down, ready to mobilize instantly.”

Toronto-based clothing brand, Peace Collective, decided to #UnravelHate by removing the thread from a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat and using that very same thread to create the ‘Welcome to Canada’ toque. Immigrants, refugees, and newcomers to Canada then reacted to both garments in a film by Zulubot.

Toronto-based clothing brand, Peace Collective, decided to #UnravelHate by removing the thread from a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat and using that very same thread to create the ‘Welcome to Canada’ toque. Immigrants, refugees, and newcomers to Canada then reacted to both garments in a film by Zulubot.

For this reason, Mroueh calls Zulubot the agency’s “secret weapon.”

By tailoring production approaches to a client’s budget, Zulubot is able to support brand and retail ideas that otherwise might not come together. “In the past, ideas would die because of production realities,” he says. “With Zulubot, we’re able to make the impossible possible. The team finds a way to pull it off.”

The company’s success at offering nimble production to clients can be seen in its growth. In the last year, Zulubot has doubled in size and now has 19 employees, allowing it to offer full production services to clients.

Executive producer Tom Evans says all this has helped Zulu’s internal creatives lean more on Zulubot, when they previously might have been skeptical about an in-house production studio. “They have seen first-hand how our production process gives a crazy last-minute idea a greater chance of seeing the light of day.”

But Zulubot isn’t just about agility, they add real value in terms of craft, storytelling expertise and surprisingly high production values. The work has been as varied as the needs of clients, from Snap lenses and Insta stories to longer-form video pieces.

When Tims wanted to tell longer stories for its Tim Horton Children’s Foundation, Zulubot shot two documentary-style films about people whose lives were impacted by going to the foundation’s camp as children.

For the Tim Horton Children’s Foundation, Zulubot produced two docu-style films featuring adults who had benefited from the foundation’s camp as children.

When Tims wanted to tell longer stories for its Tim Horton Children’s Foundation, Zulubot shot two documentary-style films about people who were impacted by the foundation’s camp as children. Evans says, “Within a short time-frame, we were able to mobilize quickly and sculpt powerful and emotive films with high production values usually limited to more traditional production approaches.”

To support TV spots for the sore throat gargle, Betadine, Zulubot created a comically awkward social campaign shot on cellphones, in which actors would suddenly and publicly gargle Betadine.

The tagline for the sore throat gargle, Betadine is “Feel the sign? Betadine.” To illustrate that people should grab the meds the moment they feel the sign of a sore throat, Zulubot fi lmed users gargling in public spaces, to delightfully awkward effect.

The tagline for the sore throat gargle, Betadine is “Feel the sign? Betadine.” To illustrate that people should grab the meds the moment they feel the sign of a sore throat, Zulubot filmed users gargling in public spaces, to delightfully awkward effect.

For HomeEquity Bank’s sponsorship of the Royal Canadian Legion, Zulubot took two different approaches to encourage young people to buy a digital poppy.

First, an online film called #PauseToRemember asked young gamers to lay down their controllers on November 11 at 11 am. Secondly, the studio took a more emotional strategy, dubbing a 95-year-old World War II veteran “the world’s oldest social media influencer” in a film that shows him learning how to buy a digital poppy. The message: if he can do it, surely you can.

Zulubot’s plan this year is to build on its experience with agile production and expand into a full digital content studio, bringing together digital content specialists from creative, strategy and production.

The studio has also set its sights on going direct to clients not currently on Zulu’s roster. If they come directly to Zulubot, they can access select parts of the agency as well, Mroueh says, calling it reverse engineering to how Zulubot currently works.

“Zulubot’s mission is to change the paradigm of how people are used to working,” he adds. “We’re fighting against the preconceived notion that to create great content you need to produce things in a traditional way.”

CONTACT:
Tom Evans
Executive Producer
tom.evans@zulubot.com