Droga5 Is No. 6 on Ad Age’s 2015 Agency A-List

“It’s time for us to have a meeting with Droga and talk about why it’s not working.”

Jill Baskin, VP-brand strategy and communication at Mondelez, was talking about Grahamfuls, Honey Maid’s sandwich cookie, which the company had reformulated by adding whole grains and eliminating high-fructose corn syrup. The brand now fell into the healthy-snack category, but something was off; the marketer had lost sight of what the brand stood for.
Droga5 had 20/20 vision.

“They said one thing about it,” she recalled. “‘Wholesome — Honey Maid is wholesome.'” The agency ran with it, sparking a cascade of social-media conversation with unorthodox representations of modern-day wholesome American families that celebrated diversity.

This was one campaign of many that got adland in 2014 suffering Droga5 fatigue, considering the number of headlines the 310-person shop swiped last year, including: Newcastle Brown Ale’s tweaking of Super Bowl ads; Under Armour’s “I Will What I Want” campaign; the “Drive Change” effort for Toyota’s fuel-cell vehicles; Motorola’s Moto 360 smartwatch ads that sent up traditional luxury watch marketing; and buzzed-about Sarah Silverman videos for the National Women’s Law Center urging equal pay.

Mondelez’s Ms. Baskin partially credits the shops’s “unlayered” structure. While Droga5 Global CEO Sarah Thompson and Global Chief Strategy Officer Jonny Bauer run the agency’s day-to-day, founder and Creative Chairman David Droga along with co-founder and Vice Chairman Andrew Essex carry the flag.

All the Winners

But what really makes Droga5’s work is the strategic thinking behind it. “It’s their ability to boil down a complex proposition into a simpler idea,” said Ms. Baskin. Mr. Bauer, who stands by the agency’s “creatively led, strategically driven” mantra, would agree. The strategic capability he started building seven years ago is now a big selling point in every pitch. That and WME/IMG’s investment in the agency.

“We’re in the business of influence,” said Mr. Bauer, and the access Droga5 has to the talent agency’s resources, tools, network and research during strategic branding processes helps the agency “determine what these brands should be.”

Buzzworthy creative, focus on strategy and finally finding a groove with their biggest partners has contributed to Under Armour Women growing sales 28%, according to the agency. It claims the same for Honey Maid’s 13% growth and a 22.2% increase in Newcastle’s non-promoted sales during the week leading up to last year’s Super Bowl, when the campaign was at its peak.

Things weren’t quiet on the new-account front, either. The momentum it gained in 2014 after winning noteworthy accounts like Chobani and Diet Coke no doubt contributed to the U.S. office’s impressive 44% increase in revenue last year. And the agency can now boast business from the Clinton Foundation, data company Dun & Bradstreet, Jockey, YMCA, Georgia-Pacific’s Dixie and Quilted Northern, RB’s Air Wick and Clearasil, and a large global project for Google’s Android.

Droga5 Is Creativity’s 2015 Agency of the Year

Droga5 New York has drummed up plenty of noise for daring clients — from Jay-Z to Marc Ecko to the New Museum. But what happened when it needed to shine light on what Chief Creative Officer Ted Royer described as “that lumpy box on the shelf you grab when you’re out of Oreos?” Turns out, a lot.

For Mondelez’s Honey Maid, the agency created one of the year’s most talked-about campaigns — in the real world, and not just the industry. In a spot that’s earned 8 million-plus YouTube views the agency updated the idea of a “wholesome” family for the 21st century with images of mixed race clans and gay parents. It then put haters in their place with a response film that transformed all the negative feedback into a sculpture of “Love,” surrounded by a sea of positive comments.

But that was just one of the agency’s many creative home runs in 2014. For clients big, small, old and new, Droga5 New York created work that once again made the industry re-think what it means to be “innovative” — easily earning the honor of Creativity Agency of the Year.

As 2014 began and advertisers swung away at the the advertising pinata that is the Super Bowl, the agency stole the show with an ambush campaign for Newcastle Brown Ale that amplified the brand’s “No Bollocks” premise with cheeky films, including one starring actress Anna Kendrick imagining what would have happened had she appeared in the brand’s big game ad that never ran.…

DROGA5 ANNOUNCES STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP WITH WME

NEW YORK and BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – JULY 11, 2013 – Industry-leading global creative agency Droga5 today announced that William Morris Endeavor (WME), one of the world’s preeminent entertainment companies, will acquire a minority stake in the agency.

“Droga5 has always endeavored to be the most influential creative agency in the business, with ideas that move our clients and our industry forward,” said David Droga, Founder and Creative Chairman, Droga5. “This partnership will exponentially accelerate our ability to realize that ambition.”

This investment will grant Droga5 unique access to WME’s unrivaled resources and relationships across the global entertainment industry, as well as its growing portfolio of assets in the technology, media and marketing sectors.

“WME continually seeks partners who will provide our clients with unparalleled access and resources,” said WME co-CEOs Patrick Whitesell and Ariel Emanuel. “Droga5 is best-in-class across the board—from its management to its creative output. Through this investment, we will be able to join the best artists and storytellers from all verticals, and we look forward to creating new opportunities for our collective clients.”

WME has an unparalleled global client base, representing many of the world’s most prominent artists, performers and content creators. In recent years, WME, backed by Silicon Valley private equity firm Silver Lake Partners, has made strategic investments in companies across the digital media landscape, including the interactive advertising, social media, social gaming and online retail sectors.

Founded in New York in 2006, Droga5′s clients include The Coca-Cola Company, American Express, Mondelez International, Motorola, Prudential, PUMA, Spotify and UNICEF. In 2013, Droga5 was named one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company, and was also Adweek’s 2012 U.S. Agency of the Year, Creativity’s U.S. Agency of the Year in both 2007 and 2011 and an Advertising Age A-List Agency for the past three years in a row.

In 2012, Droga5 launched DE-DE, a standalone product development studio that blends the best of software (engineering, design, data) and the best of storytelling (narrative, branding, distribution) to build expertly crafted platforms and businesses. DE-DE’s first product, Thunderclap, won an inaugural Innovation Lion at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and was deemed “the future of social empowerment” by Forbes.

The management of Droga5′s agency operations will not change. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Droga5 was advised by Kirkland & Ellis LLP in the U.S. and Clayton Utz in Australia.

WME was advised by Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP in the U.S. and Corrs Chamber Westgarth in Australia.

About Droga5

Droga5 is an independent creative and strategic agency headquartered in New York with offices in London and Sydney. Founded in 2006, Droga5 now counts as its clients Prudential, American Express, The Coca-Cola Company, Motorola, Mondelez International, Telstra, Spotify, PUMA, Kraft Foods Group, Woolworths, Hennessy, Unilever, Qantas and the United Nations, among others. For more information, visit droga5.com.

About William Morris Endeavor

Leading entertainment and media company WME represents elite artists from all facets of the industry, including motion pictures, television, music, theatre, publishing and physical production. WME also advises some of the world’s most recognized consumer brands to create entertainment-based marketing solutions and invests in companies across the digital media landscape. Silver Lake Partners, the global leader in technology investing, launched a strategic partnership and made a significant investment in WME in 2012. WME is headquartered in Beverly Hills with offices in New York, London, Nashville and Miami.