Behind the doors of… Droga5

Behind the doors of… Droga5
SHARE
THIS



Forget the big brands it works with. Droga5 is a huge brand in itself. But, despite huge client wins and massive internal growth in the past 12 months, the agency remains intriguingly quiet when it comes to PR-ing itself. Lucy Clark takes a look behind Droga5’s doors to find out what makes it tick.

When you think of Droga5, you can’t help but think of ‘cool’. Throughout huge growth Down Under in 2012 – thanks to a couple of enormous client wins – Droga5 maintained an air of mystery, coupled with quiet confidence. It’s certainly not one to shout about its work from the rooftops.

Droga5 is only young. It was set up in New York in 2006 by four creatives with itchy feet – David Droga, Andrew Essex, Judd Engelbrecht and Duncan Marshall. “We had all worked in large places and interesting places, but wanted to do our own thing,” recalls Marshall, now executive creative director in Sydney. “We set up with a goal to do good work with good people.”

The Sydney office came two years later, founded by David Nobay, Sudeep Gohil and Marianne Bess. Gohil, now CEO in Sydney, says: “It didn’t make any sense to have an office in Australia, it was more about the people. We started out with the three of us and my dog. We had the same philosophy, drive and ambitions. We knew that we wanted to do something bigger, better and different. And we didn’t want to become the thing that we were leaving.”

With no founding clients and forbidden from tapping their former agencies’ clients (Saatchi & Saatchi for Nobay and Wieden + Kennedy for Gohil), “we did the only thing we could, which was to cold call the brands we hadn’t worked with,” explains Gohil.

One of those calls led to a pitch for Carlton United Breweries’ Victoria Bitter – and a win. “We went from three people and a dog in a garage to 12 people overnight,” remembers Gohil.

Philosophy

Collaboration is at the core of Droga5’s philosophy, as Marshall explains: “We encourage all our business strategists to think creatively, and all our creatives to think business. In the middle where we all meet is where interesting things happen. We like to work collaboratively – and not just pay lip service to that.”

This collaboration is Droga5’s point of difference. “We think of ourselves as a creative business consultancy,” says Gohil. “That means we need to be good at asking tough questions. Ad agencies are not as good at that as they should be. You end up doing work that felt right at the time, but is off the mark.”

He adds: “We talk about being genuine business partners and not just suppliers. We like doing stuff we’ve not done before, and with that comes things like internal communications. Big brands now want their messages to come from the core of the business, so we start with the employees and get them to understand what the company stands for.”

Droga5 is also ‘humanity obsessed’. Gohil explains: “We think we should do some good and the work we have done for the UN is an example of that.”

The work

2012 saw unprecedented growth for Droga5, mainly thanks to Qantas and Woolworths shifting their creative accounts to the agency.

“A lot of people thought that those wins would change us as an agency,” says Marshall. “But we approached them as we do all our clients: creatively. We love to work with assets and tools. Woolworths has hundreds of tools – trucks, stores, staff – that we can work with. And Qantas has planes and lounges. What we are good at is joining the dots, finding things that are unconnected and creating something new.”

Last year’s move to link Telstra with James Cameron’s Deepsea Challenge is one example of connecting the dots. Telstra was the project’s global telecommunications partner, providing the Deepsea crew with connection to the outside world. “It had nothing to do with advertising, but it was a win for everybody,” explains Marshall. “Cameron benefitted from the technology and Telstra from getting their name out there.”

About a third of Droga5’s work results in no creative output. Gohil says: “Depending on how we get introduced to a client, often we get briefs where there is no creative output. The creative department is still involved in that, just the output is different.”

Droga5’s new director of innovation, American Katie Dreke, is central to working out how a brand is going to communicate itself. She says: “I have to really get in there and understand the brand. It’s still about being able to communicate that and say ‘I know where the heart beats in this brand’.”

Coping with growth

Winning the Qantas and Woolworths accounts saw Droga5 Sydney grow from 58 to 130 people in just eight months. “We had phenomenal growth that was never our intention, but it’s exciting to work with big brands who genuinely want change,” says Marshall.

Gohil adds: “Some huge clients came to us for the right reasons – for our work, not for us shouting about everything we do. Woolworths and Qantas are iconic Australian brands, which fit nicely with our roster of other Australian brands.

“The growth has been hard to manage. But the brands attract great people, and our brand as an agency attracts great people. Now we have got more capabilities, more skills and more interesting people, so our existing clients benefit as well.”

To accommodate the scores of new team members, the agency has taken over three times the amount of space it started out with at its Yurong Street offices – and is in the middle of a renovation.

Throughout the growth, Gohil says they have “worked hard to maintain our culture”. The monthly D5 Download is still a tradition, where the whole agency gets together for a ‘show and tell’ on what’s been happening.

Looking ahead

The focus for 2013 is three-fold: bedding down new client wins, getting on top of data, and developing closer working relationships with media agencies.

Plans are in motion to bring data experts over from Droga5’s New York office to kick-start a data and analytics team in Sydney. Gohil says: “The next year will be a great year. We have a lot of momentum and piles of work in production.”

In an ideal world, Gohil says creative and media would re-join. “One of the worst things that happened to advertising was when media and creative separated. We want to work closer with media.”

He adds: “It’s a pretty bitchy industry at the best of times. This agency was inspired by looking at that and thinking ‘there has got to be a better way of doing it’. The industry needs to grow up and evolve. That will be the biggest challenge in the coming years.”

Finally, the question we couldn’t leave without asking, for those who don’t know – why ‘5’?

David Droga was the fifth brother in the Droga household, and each boy had ‘Droga1’, ‘Droga2’, etc sewn into their school clothes. So, David Droga was – and still is – known as ‘Droga5’.

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

Digital Breadcrumbs: Picking Up The pieces your competitors leave online
  • Opinion

Digital Breadcrumbs: Picking Up The pieces your competitors leave online

In this guest column, Meltwater’s area director, David Hickey (pictured below), says a quick glance at the mountains of data your competitors are producing can fast prove a boon for your business too… It’s time for businesses to start paying attention and embrace the new digital reality we’re living in. We are currently in the […]

Opinion

by David Hickey

David Hickey
“The Rock” Leads a Flotilla Of Athletes In Huge Under Armour Campaign
  • Campaigns

“The Rock” Leads a Flotilla Of Athletes In Huge Under Armour Campaign

US sportswear giant Under Armour has enlisted Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to front a series of inspirational new ads featuring a host of sport stars and fitness icons. Created by Droga 5 the campaign is called “Will finds a way” and includes eight ads in all. Johnson aside, the spots include actress and martial arts star, Zoe Zhang. Fellow […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify during a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee joint hearing about Facebook on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, April 10, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Media

Free TV Calls For ACCC Oversight Of Facebook & Google

In a submission lodged with the ACCC inquiry into digital platforms, industry body Free TV today called for greater regulatory oversight of Facebook and Google. The FreeTV submission identifies a number of key areas of concern: Heavy regulation on traditional media providers and almost none on Facebook and Google Questionable claims about the reach, viewability, […]

APN Outdoor Confirms Retention Of Three Key Contracts
  • Media

APN Outdoor Confirms Retention Of Three Key Contracts

APN Outdoor has used its annual general meeting to announce three key contract renewals: Transport for Brisbane, Transdev Melbourne and Adelaide & Parafield Airports, for multiple years. Company CEO and managing director, James Warburton, said: “These contracts represent an important part of our advertising offering. The far-reaching impact they provide delivers a compelling proposition and cements our commitment […]

Women In Media Profile: Olivia Warren
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Olivia Warren

It's the latest in our Women In Media profiles, and this one is so good you'll possibly get a nervous twitch somewhere.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
LIDA Delivers Series Of Animated Info Bites For Busy Marketers
  • Marketing
  • Media

LIDA Delivers Series Of Animated Info Bites For Busy Marketers

M&C Saatchi Group’s customer engagement specialist agency, LIDA, has crafted an initial eight-episode series of bite-sized animated videos designed to help busy marketers stay ahead of the game. ‘60 Second Gets’ draws on LIDA’s wealth of experience to unpack the latest industry tools, tech and thinking. Launching today, the first video, ‘Success in 6 Seconds’, […]

Naked And Gidget Foundation Want Australians To Start Talking
  • Campaigns

Naked And Gidget Foundation Want Australians To Start Talking

Today Naked launches its ‘Start Talking’ campaign for Gidget Foundation Australia; a not-for-profit that provides support for families who are affected by perinatal depression and anxiety (PNDA). The centrepiece of the campaign is a powerful TVC that brings to life this common, but often hidden illness, and shows how Gidget Foundation’s ‘Start Talking’ telehealth program […]

MKTG Integrates Telstra Tracker Data With LED Signage At AFL Stadiums
  • Marketing
  • Technology

MKTG Integrates Telstra Tracker Data With LED Signage At AFL Stadiums

For the first time ever, AFL spectators will be able to view real-time Telstra Tracker player data via in-stadium LED signage, thanks to the combined efforts of Telstra, Champion Data and MKTG. By integrating the Telstra Tracker data into the LED signage at the MCG and Etihad Stadium, fans will receive contextually relevant information from […]

Westfield Shows Off New Visual Identity In Line With Fresh Digital Offering
  • Marketing

Westfield Shows Off New Visual Identity In Line With Fresh Digital Offering

Scentre Group has unveiled a new brand look and feel coinciding with the re-launch of the Westfield.com.au and Westfield.co.nz sites. This digital-first visual identity sees a shift towards creating a more contemporary, invigorated and colourful brand, reflective of Westfield’s in-centre experience. The iconic Westfield logo will continue to lead brand communications, supported with a new […]

The Age Of The Ephemeral: Why Experiential Marketing Is Compulsory This Year
  • Marketing
  • Opinion

The Age Of The Ephemeral: Why Experiential Marketing Is Compulsory This Year

In this guest post, Keep Left’s head of consumer engagement, Johanna Murray (pictured below), explains the merits of experiential marketing, as well as sharing some tips on how to do it – and do it well. Humans love to label things – especially intangible things, like time. We like eras and ages and eons because they […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
The Top Social Media Marketing Trends For 2018
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Technology

The Top Social Media Marketing Trends For 2018

This trends report is a must-read for all marketers, although it contains no news on the return of the bubble perm.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
How To Give And Take Feedback At Work
  • Opinion

How To Give And Take Feedback At Work

Georgia Murch (pictured below) is an expert in creating feedback cultures and author of Feedback Flow; The Ultimate Illustrated Guide to Embed Change in 90 Days. In this guest post, Murch offers her tips on giving (and receiving) feedback from colleagues without botching it up… We all know that feedback matters.  Most of us want the good, the bad and the […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Dentsu X Expands Operations To Sydney
  • Advertising
  • Media

Dentsu X Expands Operations To Sydney

Have you completely forgotten what Sydney looks like? Well, thankfully this story comes with a handy pictorial reminder.

SBS Radio Introduces Three 24-Hour Digital Radio Stations On Digital TV
  • Media

SBS Radio Introduces Three 24-Hour Digital Radio Stations On Digital TV

SBS Radio has announced two new digital radio stations – SBS PopAsia, SBS PopDesi and a refresh of SBS Radio 3 – is now available on digital TV. SBS Radio 3 will broadcast world news and current affairs from the BBC World Service (previously airing on SBS Radio 4 on digital radio) and special events […]

Champion Launches Music Platform Championing Emerging Aussie Artists Via Emotive
  • Campaigns
  • Marketing

Champion Launches Music Platform Championing Emerging Aussie Artists Via Emotive

For its first Australian campaign, Champion has partnered with creative and content agency Emotive to launch a music program titled ‘Revealed’. The program champions emerging Australian artists by intimately telling their story through video, and providing funding and creative support to create world class music videos for new release music. The first Revealed artist is […]

Delacon Launches Call Analytics In India
  • Marketing

Delacon Launches Call Analytics In India

Australian-owned call analytics provider Delacon has continued its international expansion, opening an innovation centre in India to service local and global partners, and develop the next generation of call tracking and analytics solutions. The office in Chennai is the eighth for the Sydney-headquartered business, which enables brands and agencies to optimise marketing campaigns by accurately […]

Protein To Handle Retail Roll-Out Of Recycling Initiative Return-It
  • Marketing

Protein To Handle Retail Roll-Out Of Recycling Initiative Return-It

Sydney brand and digital agency Protein has been appointed to handle the retail and digital roll-out of recycling company Return-It, which has just been announced as the container collection network for the ACT. Return-It awarded the work to the 17-year strong agency, following Protein’s tender support and brand development of the retail concept. The public-facing […]

Why We Need To Talk More About Failure
  • Opinion

Why We Need To Talk More About Failure

This is an excellent article about celebrating failure. Although, admittedly, we failed to get to the very end of it.

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Women In Media Profile: Kimmie Neidhardt
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Kimmie Neidhardt

Kimmie Neidhardt doesn't just have a very cool name, as you'll read here. There's a good head on those shoulders, too.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
SCA Promotes Nathan Soulsby To Head Of TV Sales For Sydney
  • Advertising
  • Media

SCA Promotes Nathan Soulsby To Head Of TV Sales For Sydney

Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) has announced the promotion of Nathan Soulsby to head of TV sales for Sydney. The announcement comes after Kristen Budd’s move to general manager of SCA’s Central Coast office. Caretaking the role during Budd’s maternity leave, Soulsby has been a key contributor to the consistent share and revenue growth that has […]

Columbus, A Merkle Company Announces Client Wins & Senior Appointments
  • Marketing

Columbus, A Merkle Company Announces Client Wins & Senior Appointments

Following the launch of Merkle in the Australian market in March, Columbus, a Merkle Company has secured nine new clients in three months, including Macquarie University, Event Hospitality & Entertainment Limited and Hipages. Columbus has also appointed two group business directors in the Victorian market, with Leonie Dawkins (pictured above, left) and Guy McGechan (pictured […]

Black woman in handcuffs
  • Media

Adland Industry Leaders To Be Locked Up In Prison To Help Aussie Youth

Over sixty senior leaders from the media, marketing, tech and creative industry will spend the night in jail as part of UnLtd’s Adland Bail Out, to raise funds for Whitelion. The ‘inmates’ will be handing over their mobile phones and putting on their prison overalls to brave a night in the chilling cells of Yasmar […]

JCDecaux Partners With Seedooh To Verify OOH Campaigns
  • Advertising
  • Media

JCDecaux Partners With Seedooh To Verify OOH Campaigns

Global out-of-home (OOH) advertising giant JCDecaux has announced a partnership with independent tech platform Seedooh to offer advertisers greater transparency for campaigns. Under the agreement, Seedooh’s reporting and verification platform will be integrated into JCDecaux’s system to create an independent campaign delivery reporting function that works seamlessly within the end-to-end campaign delivery processes. It will […]

Innovation: The Foundation Of Marketing & Sales Collaboration
  • Marketing
  • Opinion

Innovation: The Foundation Of Marketing & Sales Collaboration

In this opinion piece, Seismic’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand, Andy Pattinson (pictured below), explains how marketers can work smarter and why collaboration is vital in delivering return on investment. Demand for marketing roles is growing, as marketers continue to learn more about what customers want. The marketing agenda is increasingly being tied in […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Roll’d Enlists Impress!ve Digital Ahead Of Franchise & Catering Push
  • Marketing

Roll’d Enlists Impress!ve Digital Ahead Of Franchise & Catering Push

Aussie food franchise Roll’d has announced it has signed on Melbourne digital marketing agency Impress!ve Digital to support its digital marketing. The partnership has already begun, with Impress!ve Digital aiming to significantly boost the company’s revenue through digital marketing strategies that are directly linked to return on investment and franchise acquisition. Impress!ve Digital has been […]

Yippee! More Photos from the 30 Under 30 Awards!
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media
  • Technology

Yippee! More Photos from the 30 Under 30 Awards!

If you think B&T simply runs these photo gallery stories so you can gawk at young, attractive people, you'd be right.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine