Shit happens: David Droga on bad ads, Woolworths and making things better

Rosie Baker
By Rosie Baker | 26 March 2014
Droga5 creative chairman, David Droga

When David Droga touched down in Sydney ahead of the Global Marketer Conference, he arrived to find a much smaller local agency than the one he had when he boarded the plane in New York.

Speaking at the AANA drinks event to kick off Global Marketer Week, David Droga, founder of Droga5 said in the time it took him to fly in, the Sydney office had all but lost Woolworths, one of its biggest clients.

“When I got on the plane in New York we had a big agency in Sydney and when I landed we had a slightly smaller agency. It’s alright we can talk about it – don’t feel awkward, that’s what happens in our industry right? It’s the nature of advertising,” he joked just hours after news broke that Woolworths has handed its main creative account to Leo Burnett.

Speaking to AdNews Droga said on one hand the loss is a “kick in the balls” for the agency, but on the other it’s not necessarily a bad thing. The client was too big for the agency, he said adding that remaining on the roster but free from main creative responsibilities, Droga5 has the potential to do smaller, more inventive, project work for the supermarket. And better service its other clients.

“I don’t want Droga5 to be the biggest agency, I want it to be the best,” he added.

Droga was speaking ahead of the AANA Great Australian Marketing Awards winners' presentation and the changing nature of the industry since he left Australia 16 years ago to open an office in New York, was the main thrust.

The industry is in its greatest time ever because marketers and agencies don’t have to choose between having ambition and giving a shit, he told the room of international, global and Australian marketers and advertising executives.

“Advertising and marketing can transform everything. It’s not just about selling stuff. Our job is to create effective marketing – let’s assume that’s a given but it’s also to do more than that.”

It's a message Droga has consistently delivered.

He urged agencies and marketers to “stop polluting with shit advertising”, adding that it is the 90% of advertising that is formulaic and shit that gives the industry a bad name. Instead clients and agencies need to realise its power lies in having a purpose beyond selling product and its ability to effect positive change.

Having been invited to the White House to talk healthcare bill and marketing with Barack Obama, Droga should know.

“The industry is far reaching and the potential of what we can do is extraordinary,” he said. “I say that not trying to be grandiose or hyperbolic, but I say it because our industry has gone from 40 years of having a captive audience where we could pretty much patronise them, take them for granted or have our way with the consumer. It’s changed. Now we have to earn their attention and that is why the onus on us as marketers and advertising people is to do much more with it.”

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