Here's What Happens When You Sell Your Agency to a Holding Company

Billy's Lemonade is a cautionary tale

It's been said so often, it's become cliché: No independent agency gets better after a sale to a holding company. 

This truism is dramatized in amusing fashion by Canadian agency Zulu Alpha Kilo in a new video created for Strategy magazine's annual Agency of the Year event. It features the ultimate indie operation—a neighborhood lemonade stand—and the shitshow that ensues when a big New York holding company swoops in, enamored by the proprietor's creativity and business success. 

The suits can't get out of their own way. And their decisions—from renaming the stand, to switching to prepackaged lemonade powder, to making the cups 80 percent smaller—are simply wretched. 

It's like what Dan Wieden memorably said in 2016 when he reiterated his pledge to never, ever sell Wieden + Kennedy. "It just isn't fair," he declared, "that a handful of people will walk off with big gobs of money and those left behind will either face salary cuts or be fired, and the culture will be destroyed." Billy and his sister can relate. 

The film was produced by Zulubot, written by Michael Siegers and Jonah Flynn, and directed by Zulu Alpha Kilo founder Zak Mroueh.

The agency has produced lots of fun satirical videos for the Agency of the Year event in the past, including 2015's viral "Say No to Spec" and last year's "World's Worst RFP."


Agency: Zulu Alpha Kilo
Creative Director: Zak Mroueh
Art Director: Michael Siegers
Writer: Jonah Flynn
Producer: Colleen Allen
Account Team: Kayla MacDonald
Production House: Zulubot
Director: Zak Mroueh
Director of Photography: Paul Steinberg
Exec Producer: Tom Evans
Editor: Jessie Posthumus
Audio Mixer: Rob Morrice
Casting Director: Jigsaw, Shasta Lutz
Transfer: Alter Ego, Eric Whipp
Audio: Dino Cuzzolino

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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