The A-List: Zulu Alpha Kilo

From strength to strength
On behalf of the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, Zulu Alpha Kilo dramatized the plight of small businesses shut down because of COVID-19 while big box stores were allowed to remain open. The agency placed “out-of-work” mannequins along the busy Toronto commercial streets, calling for a level playing field for all businesses.

For the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, Zulu Alpha Kilo dramatized the plight of small businesses shut down due to COVID-19 while big box stores stayed open.

In a healthy economy, it’s easy for companies to hide their weaknesses. But when faced with a global pandemic and massive downturn in the economy, those weaknesses are often painfully exposed.

For trailblazing independent Zulu Alpha Kilo, the socio-economic challenges triggered by COVID-19 have shone a light on the agency’s strengths.

Interac’s “InLife” platform tells the stories of people chasing their passions, all while taking advantage of Interac offerings such as Flash and e-Transfer.

Interac’s “InLife” platform tells the stories of people chasing their passions,
all while taking advantage of Interac offerings such as Flash and e-Transfer.

That’s been reinforced by placement on the list of Canada’s Best Managed Companies for the fourth consecutive year, as determined by Deloitte. This year, the agency has been elevated to gold status on one of the country’s most prestigious business rankings. “We were told that what struck this year’s vetting committee is that we managed a once-in-a-lifetime crisis and came out even stronger,” notes founder & CCO Zak Mroueh.

Zulu created an Instagram campaign for Interac to demonstrate virtual ways to engage in Lunar New Year traditions, such as exchanging gifts of money.

Zulu created an Instagram campaign for Interac to introduce new virtual Lunar New Year traditions, such as exchanging gifts of money.

This should be no surprise for an agency whose culture is built on the core value of bravery.

Its fiercely creative culture has inspired several former employees to return. After 11 years at New York-based Smart Design, Stephanie Yung has come back to Zulu as head of design, and Jessica Hill returned as business group director after running her own successful business for 10 years. Ex-Ogilvy Canada CCO Brian Murray comes in as a key new hire, taking on the ECD role.

They join a firm that continues to challenge cultural and creative conventions. Take its current campaign for RATESDOTCA, a website that helps users compare car insurance rates. Depicting a car jacked up on a hoist for repair, the launch video features a cereal-eating mechanic as he directs the car owner’s attention to a cow’s udder hanging from the vehicle’s underside and warns,“ There’s your problem – you’re getting milked on your car insurance.” He then milks the udder into his cereal bowl. The campaign was quickly recognized by AdAge as editor’s Pick of the Day.

For RATESDOTCA, surreal humour alerts Canadians to how easy it is to overpay for auto insurance, visually conveying getting “milked.

For RATESDOTCA, surreal humour alerts Canadians to how easy it is to overpay for auto insurance, visually conveying getting “milked.

Zulu is also not afraid to bust a few taboos. Its bold “Go Love Yourself” campaign for Consonant Skin+Care leverages the scientific evidence that orgasm is good for your skin. Partnering with Fortnight Lingerie, Consonant released limited-edition undergarments that feature sewn-in messages encouraging the wearer to pleasure themselves. The company also partnered with sexologist Taylor Nolan on a podcast that explores female solo sexuality called The More You O.

Who knew masturbation was good for your skin? Zulu used the science of solo sexuality to promote skin care brand Consonant’s newest product line.

Who knew masturbation was good for your skin? Zulu used the science of solo sexuality to promote skin care brand Consonant’s newest product line.

In its second year of helping HomeEquity Bank support the Royal Canadian Legion’s Remembrance Day digital poppy campaign, Zulu got gamers globally to stop play and observe two minutes of silence to “Pause to Remember” our war veterans.

This year, however, they added a new twist: “Team Legion.” With play paused, four WWII veterans appeared on screen to share their stories of what a real war is like. The powerful campaign won a Grand Prix at the Drum Awards for Digital Advertising, beating out 5,000 global entries.

Closer to home, Zulu helped local small Toronto retailers mount a campaign against the unfairness of allowing big-box stores to open during the COVID lockdowns, while they couldn’t. “Out of work mannequins” were posed in front of stores up and down the street, holding signs with messages such as “think outside the big-box” and “hungry for customers.” The campaign for the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) made the front page of The Globe & Mail’s Report on Business and the CBC national news.

Gamers paused on Remembrance Day and met WWII vets in a campaign sponsored by Home Equity Bank for the Royal Canadian Legion.

Gamers paused on Remembrance Day and met WWII vets in a campaign sponsored by Home Equity Bank for the Royal Canadian Legion.

It has also been a year of investment. Inspired to take even greater control of its own post-pandemic future, Zulu has taken an equity stake in Consonant Skin+Care. It will not only act as in-house creative agency but participate in its growth and development.

Zulu slyly approached the launch of Subaru’s new Crosstrek, personifying the vehicle as a teenager whom its “parents” love despite its transgressions

Zulu slyly approached the launch of Subaru’s new Crosstrek, personifying the vehicle as a teenager whom its “parents” love despite its transgressions.

A year that has unfortunately taken many agencies backwards has been for Zulu Alpha Kilo a year of progress. It has added to its growing pile of awards with six CMA Golds and a Best of Show for its Subaru “Greatest Outback Of All Time” campaign. The UK’s Creative Pool awarded it 2020 Independent Agency of the Year. Forbes, Fast Company and SXSW recognized the agency’s creative work as “game changing” and amongst the “most innovative” of the year.

For the #FeedImagination campaign for Campbell’s Goldfish, Zulu placed kids artwork on billboards, in digital storybooks and in an interactive experience

For the #FeedImagination campaign for Campbell’s Goldfish, Zulu placed kids artwork on billboards, in digital storybooks and in an interactive experience

Business wins included Campbell’s Goldfish, Harry Rosen, online learning platform D2L and the Ottawa Senators.

And now that it’s proven you can work remotely with minimal disruption, the shop is planning to expand its creative talent pool by entering other markets in Canada and the U.S. Success rewards the brave.

CONTACT:
Mike Sutton
President & CEO
mike@zulualphakilo.com

The 2021 A-Listers:

Intro

Target: natural born storytellers

doug&partners: ready for whatever’s next

UM: winning in an uncertain world

C&B: connecting on a deeper level

Initiative: doubling down on innovation and creating cultural velocity

Media Experts: shaping what’s next

Giants & Gentlemen: the power of unwavering philosophy

Wunderman Thompson: a multidisciplinary service offering

DDB: the power of informed creative

Citizen Relations: making every conversation count