ZAK launches media arm, Zulumatic Media

Zulu Alpha Kilo has introduced a new media offering called Zulumatic Media, a move that the agency’s founder and chief creative officer Zak Mroueh said will help connect clients and consumers in “new and effective” ways.

Zulumatic is built on the belief that bringing together creative and media during the planning process can produce “more breakthrough results” for clients, said president and CEO Mike Sutton. “In our experience, when media and creative are closely linked, that’s when we see great results.”

The launch of Zulumatic is the latest step in the ambitious “reengineering plan” at the 14-year-old agency undertaken during the pandemic, said Sutton.

He described it as a significant moment in the agency’s history, akin to the 2015 launch of its production arm Zulubot, and this year’s opening of its Vancouver office. “Every so often at Zulu we take a big step forward… and I look at this as another significant stake in the ground for the company,” he said.

A media offering felt particularly relevant as the number of channels across which creative assets can be deployed has exploded in recent years. “Often as we’re going through creative development, we’re thinking of these different canvases for the ideas we’re coming up with,” said Sutton.

The agency has hired Alicia Petralia to head up the five-person media division. Petralia, who joined in April, spent the previous two years as director of digital media at Bensimon Byrne, and was also director of communications design at IPG’s media network, Initiative.

“She comes from a digital-first place,” said Sutton. “She really brings a modern approach to clients’ needs, and she’s super creative in how she thinks about media.”

Petralia cited the agency’s recent work with the Responsible Gaming Council as an example of how Zulumatic works with the agency’s creative and Zulubot divisions by pushing for additional creative across multiple channels.

“We might not have tested Snapchat or Twitter had we not had enough creative [assets],” she said. “We’re seeing the payoff just from being able to talk early in the creative process and say ‘Let’s do a little bit more here so we can get more out of our campaign.'”

While the “digital-first” tag and Zulumatic name conjures up the idea of programmatic media buying, Sutton said it’s intended more as a “playful name” that was chosen from among “a couple of hundred” potential candidates.

“We’re not programmatic first when it comes to the way we approach media,” added Petralia. “Obviously that’s a part of our offering, but that wasn’t the full intent.” The agency is currently in the process of executing a broadcast buy for one of its clients, she added, and has already executed some digital out-of-home campaigns.

The launch of Zulumatic is part of an ongoing push by creative shops to bring media back into the fold after years of it being a standalone function. In Canada, several independent agencies including Fuse Creates, No Fixed Address and Cundari have all bolstered their media offering in recent years.

“At the end of the day you’re saving time and money, and you can reinvest all of that into making ideas stronger of extending time in market,” said Petralia. “There’s so much efficiency to be had with this process… and I think clients are going to want that.”

Chris Powell