Zulu Alpha Kilo mocks ad industry in website overhaul

Firm aims to poke fun at the sameness of other agency portals

This does limit our growth

Zak Mroueh

It’s all there: a profile of the chief executive wearing red suspenders with a drink in his hand, a “client services clock” detailing the most recent complaints and an in-depth customer case study of a recent account win, Glen’s Pet Supply Store. As ad agency web sites go, Zulu Alpha Kilo has more than covered its bases.

Upon closer inspection, however, much of what you now see on ZuluAlphaKilo.com should not be taken very seriously. Glen’s Pet Supply Store, for example, does not exist (any more than the patented ZAK “Result-A-Breakthrough” metric), and advice like “Puns: The highest form of humour” are not to be followed.

This tongue-in-cheek take was both a reaction to current ad agency stereotypes and an attempt by the firm to depart radically from its former portal, which contained little in the way of contact information. Or as ZAK founder and chief creative officer Zak Mroueh described it, a “non site.” That version had stemmed from his own wide-ranging research of agency sites after leaving Taxi, he said, and the stereotypes he kept seeing.

“If you take away the art direction and any client information, they could all be saying the same thing,” he told Marketing. ZAK’s minimalist approach, meanwhile, was very polarizing, especially since marketers going through RFPs would compare it with more conventional portals as though they were searching for a plumber in the Yellow Pages. “We wanted clients that were in the know, who knew my reputation at the time. It would weed out clients that weren’t quite the right fit.”

This time around, ZAK wants its site to act as a piece of content, although some caveats remain. ZAK president Mike Sutton said the firm will never showcase its client work or any kind of traditional “sizzle reel” as part of its web presence.

“If you were to follow the agency on Twitter or read the industry publications, that’s where you’re going to see the work that we’re doing,” he said.

“This does limit our growth,” Mroueh admitted. “There will be clients who look at it and go, ‘Where’s all the stuff that other agencies have?’ What we say to them is, do you want an agency like everyone else?”

ZAK believes its approach is already paying off. The company is currently the subject of an eight-page profile in the March/April issue of Communications Arts magazine. All production for the new site was handled through Zulu’s content creation division zulubot.

ZAK on Tuesday also announced the hiring of Christina Hill, former SVP of Innocean Worldwide Canada managing the Kia business, to the newly created role of creative operations director.

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