On my Bucket List: Wish to work with Zulu Alpha Kilo

30 Nov,2022



By Sanjeev Kotnala


Sanjeev KotnalaIf there is one creative agency I want to work with and spend some time with, it would be ZAK- Zulu Alpha Kilo. I have been hugely impressed by their culture, work and approach. No, I don’t know anyone in Zulu Alpha kilo, and I don’t think there will be an opportunity for me, but there is no harm in adding to your wish list- bucket list. Anyway, you don’t get to tick off everything on your bucket list like – my travel bucket list is still looking for sponsors.

I share some old dated self-focussed work by Zulu Alpha kilo- and not their work for clients. Things make me want to be in Canada and work with them. At least hear them talk and work. Maybe we could get them at Goa Fest next year!

To see some of Zulu Alpha kilo work, click here.

And as the site says, REAL WORK- featured work– click here. The agency says to have created a Parody website that pointed out the sameness in agency websites. Featured on the site are fictional co-founders Frank Zulu – ‘chief executive, executive officer’; Marcus Alpha – ‘ultra-chief creative director officer’; and Katherine Kilo – ‘VP strategic strategy officer in charge of everything. Services at the ‘World’s fullest full-service agency’ include ‘cattle branding’, ‘calculus tutoring’, and ‘unofficial Cannes Lion trophy manufacturing’. How cool it is.


The Wall at Zulu Alpha Kilo.

I remember doing such an exercise at the Mudra management training programme sometime in 1987 in Ahmedabad. The programme had Naganand Kumar asking us to write about what the earthen horse in the training room would say, silently watching the sessions if it was to come to life. That was to transpose your perspective and speak from a different space. It is an excellent exercise to do.

So: What if the agency could talk? What would it say? ‘The Wall’ is a short video created by Zulu Alpha Kilo when it was honoured to be nominated for both ‘Agency of the Year’ and ‘Digital Agency of the Year’, and were asked to create a video to represent the agency. Here is the response of Zulu Alpha Kilo some 9-10 years back. The Wall at Zulu Alpha kilo is for mature audiences only.


Mery Jingles From The Bottom Of Out Bottoms

Watch this –  Zulu Alpha Kilo clip Mery Jingles featuring Spanish percussionist Jorge Perez performing the song with vocals by Alana Sinkey. And when as per reports, some complained the clip being misogynistic, the company denied it and said, “As ‘equal bum opportunists,’ both male and female bums were used,” and added that they have also made a generous donation to Colon Cancer Canada.”


Scared Straight: Out Of Advertising 

Scared Straight: Out of Advertising comes with a warning of EXPLICIT CONTENT and a rider that reads, ‘The following contains subject matter that may be disturbing to those hoping to enter the ad industry.

It is humour laced and should terrify any new joiner to think again about their career in advertising. Here senior creative resources give the potential recruits reasons why choosing advertising, more so, Zulu Alpha Kilo, would be a wrong choice.

Come to think of it, this video was the shirt-self-promotion video produced by Zulu Alpha Kilo when shortlisted for Strategy Magazine’s Canadian Agency of the Year Competition.



Zulu ALPHA KILO Blank Canvas

Simple project. Zulu opened its doors in 2008, and a blank white canvas was displayed in the office lobby. The agency encouraged employees and visitors to express their inner artist and colour canvas. A stop-motion camera captured every stroke creating a mini-documentary.


Saying NO to Spec Work – Zulu Alpha Kilo

Okay, it sounds unreal, but Zulu Alpha Kilo, a leading Canadian independent ad agency, does not do spec creative. In India, I know of few who hold a no-spec approach as an agency or consultant. But it is still rare to see some agency holding on to this for too long.

Zulu believes in being a platform for change in the marketing and advertising industry. They not only say ‘no’ to spec work but are also known to pay candidates for their job interview time. Watch this talk where Mike Sutton – of Zulu Alpha Kilo talks about Say No to specs.



Here watch the famous World’s Worst RFP.



Zulu Alpha kilo’s recent take on AWARDS- the case of left-handed Mango Chutney. Yes, there are polarised views on this communication too- but it does make a point.



And here is ZAK’s pitch for the Campaign of Clinton and Trump. Watch to know how not to take yourself seriously and make a point.




While we are at the ‘Say No to pitches’ and ‘awards’ here is a video on appeal to the Cannes jury and spoof on social cause-based advertising. Does it ring a bell?



While at it, you can watch one about the Award Case Video.



I remember many other videos made for Abby in the nineties, but I have no access to them. Out of them, there were two I would love to see again. One was Durga Khote Production by Mudra- ‘Advertising Works it Works’ and the second was a tale on Sholay- ‘Pitch mai Kitni Agencies’- that ends with – ‘This year forget the Abby awards. However, here is a clip taking a shot at the ACCOUNT PLANNERS  show. I like it.




I may not get a chance to interact at Zulu Alpha Kilo, but if you people at Zulu Alpha Kilo get to read this- you know how much I respect your approach. Maybe you will think it over.

The debate about whether advertising agencies should do speculative Pitches or not is not a new one. Someone has to bite the bullet. At least Charge for the time and effort that goes into it. At least ensure that the client does not go back to the same agency that was the reason for the pitch.

Similarly, the Scam ads- Patli Gully ads- surrogate communication for awards ( not surrogate advertising) and Plagiarism  is a reality that needs close monitoring. Recently, we have seen some 2-3 works that have screamed ‘For Awards’ and will most likely win many awards. But who will bell the cat? Till then, keep debating.


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