Strategy. Strategy. Strategy.
That was the big takeaway from the Droga event. But first, the usual introduction to ground you and set the scene.
On September 14th 2012, to a packed lunchtime crowd (the Ad Club actually overbooked the event due to demand), David Droga spent around one hour sharing his wealth of knowledge to the many, many admirers of his work. It was a good show to say the least.
Let's Start With Droga's Early Career
It's fair to say that everyone in the audience was at least a little jealous, if not drooling over the incredible career of Droga. While most of us spend our careers working our way up to Creative Director, he stepped into the role at the tender age of just 21.
Yes, 21; a time when many of us are still sleeping off the hangover from 3-4 years of college life. That's the sign of a man truly motivated to do great work, have bold opinions, and make a difference. The agency was Omon, in Australia, and he won several Cannes Lions there (a good start on becoming the most awarded man in the ad industry) before being tapped by Saatchi & Saatchi in Asia, again as Creative Director.
One look through the advertising archives and you'll see his work helped the agency become one of the best in the world. It's also the reason he then became Executive Creative Director of Saatchi & Saatchi London, once again elevating the agency to the top of the food chain.
To say Droga has the midas touch would be an understatement. After a stint as Worldwide Chief Creative Officer of the entire Publicis group, Droga decided to open his own shop. And Droga 5 was born.
Droga 5 - Agency Of The Year for 33% of its Life
One look at the client list, and the work, of Droga 5, and you know you're dealing with a very special agency. The work is never clever just for the sake of being clever. As Droga says, the strategy is most important, and at the start of the creative process he doesn't want to see fleshed out ideas, or scripts, or comps, or storyboards.
He just wants to talk.
That's what makes the work so strong. Before a comp is ever roughly sketched, or the first word is typed into a script, both the creative team and Droga know for sure where the idea is going, and if it is on strategy.
This was something hammered home again and again and again, as we all saw work that was both powerful and memorable. The work for Newcastle Brown was beautifully irreverent, the perfect attitude for a beer brewed in the "no BS" world of the North East of England. They pull no punches; neither does the advertising.
The graffiti stunt for Mark Ecko, featuring the tagging of Air Force 1, was perfect for the client and his routes in graffiti culture. The "Great Schlep" campaign that helped Obama get elected was ideally-suited to the humor and attitude of both the target audience, and the Obama campaign as a whole.
Droga knows his clients, and the target, better than almost any other advertising creative out there. And almost is probably a redundant word in that sentence.
But after all the great work, and all the funny stories, the one thing that came across was the importance of strategy. You must know it, inside and out. You must work to it. You must let the work come out of it. Without it, you're focusing on execution and not something that will connect with people. It's the reason Droga 5 has been named Agency Of The Year twice. Not bad for an agency that started life six years ago, with just three people and a dream.
As for David Droga himself, he came across as a down to earth guy who loves the industry and his craft, and seeks only to produce the best possible work, either personally or through his agency.
If there's a utopia in the ad industry, it must surely lie within the walls of Droga 5.