Zulu Alpha Kilo Looks To Flatten The Virus Curve With Campaign Encouraging People To Stay Home


Robert Goldrich
Friday, Apr. 3, 2020


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In an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, Toronto-based agency Zulu Alpha Kilo has launched a campaign that encourages Canadians to stay home as the nation collectively tries to flatten the curve. The effort also includes work for the American market as a modified U.S. flag (in which home icons replace the stars) imparts the importance of staying at home. This ScreenWork piece is a video showcasing the modified #STAYHOME American flag.

Like every business, Zulu was scrambling in the first week dealing with client emergencies, adjusting to working from home and faced with the stark new reality. Then, a week ago, agency founder and CCO Zak Mroueh decided to change his team’s focus from what they couldn’t do to what they could and so he gave them a creative brief. 

“In this unprecedented time, what value is there really in being an agency. We’re not on the front lines or able to manufacture life-saving products - all we can do is manufacture ideas that communicate the message we all need to hear right now. Stay home and take this seriously. We’re encouraging anyone – agencies, brands, consumers, to leverage this viral brand and implement the ‘Stay Home’ logo for their own use, so they can continue to support the rally cry for the country and the world” said Mroueh.  

In collaboration with media partner UM and The French Shop in Quebec, the integrated campaign consists of broadcast, OOH and social executions. The hero visual emphasizes the ‘Stay Home’ message by utilizing a modified Canadian flag, replacing the maple leaf with a home. In a series of Canadian and U.S. spots, we pull out of each country’s respective flag and hear a home recorded rough demo of “O Canada” and the “The Star Spangled Banner,” which was produced by Tattoo Sound & Music. The spots are paid off with a super that reads #STAYHOME.  

A series of Instagram story “invitations” were inspired by the fact that, even though major public events have been canceled, some people still sit on the fence about casual get-togethers or family celebrations. These animated invites (such as a “Baby Shower” or a “BBQ”) urge people to reconsider the social plans in their calendars, twisting the typical “RSVP” language to read “Rethink Social Invites Please.” 

Separate Instagram executions convey a more serious message by outlining how seemingly harmless interactions could end up being fatal for friends or loved ones. In an effort to hammer this home, a public Facebook profile for COVID-19 was created that seeks out public events scheduled for the near future, so organizers will receive notifications that “Covid-19 is coming to your event.” The virus’ profile will remind organizers and guests that today’s events shouldn’t come with unwanted guests – especially those that could cause some serious harm. 

Additionally, an interactive video game based on the notion of social-distancing is currently under development. Players will be tasked to make certain decisions that may or may not lead them to a “Game Over” based on their actions around public safety. The game is currently set to launch in the coming weeks and will be used as another means of promotion. Each of the pieces created ends with the modified Canadian flag, leveraging the hashtag #STAYHOME. 

Zulu is offering their “Stay Home” flag and accompanying assets for download available to anyone across the country or the world, who’d like to support the initiative. For Quebec, the agency also created a modified Fleur-de-lis. As the “Stay Home” message is not just for Canadians, rather a global plea, Zulu has created a modified “Stay Home” American flag accessible for download to friends and colleagues across the border, in hopes other countries will follow suit. If anyone decides to use one of the flags in any communications they might create, Zulu only asks that they don’t enter it into an awards show based on the opinion that pro bono work created from this crisis should not be leveraged for industry honors. 

Many of Zulu’s clients have also endorsed the message, showcasing their support through various means that helps encourage Canadians to band together during this tough time. As a method of internal implementation, Zulu removed its own logo and all its industry accolades from their employees signatures and updated each to read: Employee Name, Stay at Home Job Title (e.g. Wain Choi, Stay at Home ECD) along with the “Stay Home” flag designed in solidarity with communications being shared with the public.

Partner companies include UM Media, The French Shop, Jumpstart Communications, Tattoo Sound & Music, Pattison Outdoor, Astral Media, and many others are signing on to help stop the spread.


Agency Zulu Alpha Kilo, Toronto Music Tattoo Sound & Music (producer of home recorded rough demo of “O Canada” and “The Star Spangled Banner”)

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