Mroueh also gets new title as Smrczek pairs with Ogilvie
Zulu Alpha Kilo founder Zak Mroueh has added to the already strong creative ranks of his agency with the appointment of former Taxi colleague Ron Smrczek as co-executive creative director.
The search got underway about six months ago with Mroueh looking for new talent in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. The agency considered 12 to 14 candidates before deciding on Smrczek, who was most recently CD at Commonwealth in Milan.
Smrczek’s professional career includes work on major global brands including Nike, Viagra, Nestlé, Coca-Cola, Axe and Kraft. He has been honoured by numerous international and local awards shows including Cannes, the One Show, Clios and Marketing.
Mroueh and Smrczek have a long professional history dating back to their time at Taxi, where the two men helped raise the agency’s global presence with work for Viagra and Nike. Mroueh promoted Smrczek to CD at Taxi prior to his 2007 departure to launch Zulu, and Smrczek subsequently held ECD roles at both Taxi New York and Taxi Europe before moving to Commonwealth.
Smrczek first interviewed with Zulu in November and formally assumed his new role two weeks ago. He is the latest in a string of senior hires made by Zulu in recent months, pushing the staff count for the nearly five-year-old agency to 55.
He will partner with the newly promoted Shane Ogilvie as co-ECD, splitting up the agency’s accounts. Both will report into Mroueh, who moves into the new position of chief creative officer and will be responsible for executing the agency’s overall creative vision. The agency’s senior leadership team also includes CDs Jon Webber, Mark Francolini and Ari Elkouby.
Mroueh joked that Zulu has “more creative people per square foot than the average agency,” but said it was a conscious decision to build his agency around senior-level creative talent. While many agency start-ups tend to use junior talent to contain costs, Mroueh said that investment in senior talent has numerous benefits.
“I feel that investment in senior talent leads to better work, clients are happier and you get to solutions faster,” he said. “Compared to most agencies our size, we have more senior talent. When we do new business pitches, we talk about the level of senior talent we have.”
“The philosophy at Zulu is that [we have] one department, and it’s a creative department. Even when we talk to clients, we don’t have an account services department or a planning department, we just have a creative department.”
It’s an approach that enabled a start-up to attract top-flight clients like Bell, Corona, Jack Astor’s, Audi and Coca Cola. “What I’ve learned from past history is when you invest and hire senior talent, you get those bigger clients,” he said. “You build it and they will come.”