Woolies appoints “Not the obvious choice”… Droga5

After what could prove to be the most significant pitch of the year, Woolworths has appointed Droga5 as its creative agency.

The agency replaces M&C Saatchi, Woolies’ agency of record for a decade.

The review was called in November, when Woolworths Supermarkets director Tjeerd Jegen admitted that the company’s marketing had been “inconsistent”.

At this point M&C Saatchi boss Tom Dery called the review “perfectly understandable”.

Jegen said in a statement: “The appointment of Droga5 may not have been the obvious choice but we have realised through this process that ‘the obvious’ is the last place Woolworths wants to be.”

The win will come as welcome news to Droga, which last week was hit by the loss of Carlton United Brewers brands VB, Crown Lager and Cascade.

The announcement in full:

Woolworths General Manager of Marketing, Lizzy Ryley said: “Droga5 is a highly innovative agency with a great reputation for strong creative ideas and strategic planning skills.  The team demonstrated a very thorough understanding of our brand and its unique position in the hearts and minds of Australian shoppers and we are confident of building a successful partnership.”

Creative Chairman of Droga5 Australia, David Nobay said: “As a brand, Woolworths touches close to 20 million consumers every single week, and employs over 111,000 Australians.  In that sense, it is a channel all of its own, and moves the conversation for an entire country. Being chosen to tell great stories around a brand that already shapes so much behaviour in this country is a genuine privilege.”

Tjeerd Jegen, Director of Woolworths supermarkets said: “The appointment of Droga5 may not have been the obvious choice but we have realised through this process that “the obvious” is the last place Woolworths wants to be. It was very important to me that we found a creative agency that demonstrated the right mix of creativity, innovation and who were a good cultural fit.”

M&C Saatchi have held the Woolworths account for ten years and will continue to work for the Woolworths  Limited group as creative agency for Masters Home Improvement. Ryley commented: “We sincerely thank the M&C team for a decade of service and wish them the very best for the future.”

Droga5 will commence work in the coming weeks following a transition period.  Their first brand campaign will launch sometime in the fourth quarter of this financial year.

Woolworths marketing has come in for heavy criticism in recent times, with even its own marketers hinting that rival Coles has been leading the category in the advertising stakes.

In December, Woolworths repurposed an advertising idea from its New Zealand subsidiary following the arrival of Elizabeth Ryley to run its supermarkets division, hinting that she was unhappy with its marketing output locally.

Woolworths was named Asia’s most powerful retail brand by Interbrand last month.


  1. Storyteller
    7 Mar 12
    5:43 pm


    The end.

  3. Jodes
    7 Mar 12
    5:57 pm

  4. Nobbie could convince Vegans to eat meat – he is without doubt a most talented presenter. Hope the transition and reality pans out for Droga5 and Woolies.

  5. Competitor
    7 Mar 12
    6:09 pm

  6. Lucky them. So envious.

  7. Wild Oscar
    7 Mar 12
    6:22 pm

  8. Well done! A well-deserved win. A mother of a pitch process I bet! And commiserations to the M&C crew. Bloody tough news.

  9. Better than reality TV
    7 Mar 12
    6:44 pm

  10. ‘good cultural fit’. Droga & Woolies? I’ve worked on Woolies and I’m
    struggling to comprehend that one. It will be fascinating to watch this play out.

  11. fleshpeddler
    7 Mar 12
    6:56 pm

  12. so Droga lose their beer and car business and now handles Telstra Business and Woolies. Seems about right for the work they’ve been turning out

    WWS and Telstra are massive Australian brands no doubt, but Droga hasn’t exactly become the beacon of creativity they set out to be and these clients won’t help them

  13. Good luck
    7 Mar 12
    7:01 pm

  14. Good Luck Droga…You’ll need it!!!

  15. mdh
    7 Mar 12
    7:09 pm

  16. It was an interesting pitch process.

  17. Ann
    7 Mar 12
    9:41 pm

  18. Risky, very risky

  19. Anonymous
    7 Mar 12
    10:11 pm

  20. Congrats, Droga. This is a huge win. But be warned, this press release is the last time you’ll ever see the terms ‘strong creative ideas’ and ‘strategic planning’ associated with this account.

  21. Jon
    8 Mar 12
    9:28 am

  22. It’s hard to comprehend a client choosing Mitchell’s for media and Droga for creative in the same review! Something is going to break…

  23. JohnW
    8 Mar 12
    11:15 am

  24. Droga 5 will need to work hard by way of providing innovation into Woolies’ marketing mix, not just advertising. That’s why they won the pitch.

    Woolies are in strife in the market with Coles beating them in profitability in the past nine quarters. Reason? Dull. Woolies’ board passed over the best retail marketer in Australia, their previous Supermarkets chief, Greg Foran, for a new ultra conservative CEO last October. Guess where Greg went ? Walmart just appointed him to head up all their stores in China. Woolies just don’t get it. That’s why they hired Droga 5.

  25. SmartShopper
    8 Mar 12
    12:42 pm

  26. Learning from the mistakes of the past, Woolies needs to start being leaders in this market segment again and not just for Fresh Food but Fresh Ideas. If you follow you will always be second.

  27. fleshpeddler
    8 Mar 12
    1:26 pm

  28. John W

    er….if Woolies have been beaten by Coles for the last 9 quarters, how is that the fault of the guy who took over a few months ago?

    and if he was such a brilliant retailer, wouldn’t Greg Foran have been improving Woolies position during his tenure as Director of Supermarkets….y’know, the person whose job it is make supermarkets more profitable?

  29. JohnW
    8 Mar 12
    3:14 pm

  30. Hey fleshpeddler you didn’t get it either!

    Read again the word “dull” as applicable to the whole Woolies’ operation, i.e Big W, Dick Smith (a real doozy) etc, not just supermarkets. This is the responsibility of the Woolies board. The “dull” board chose an ultra conservative CEO because Woolies, as a whole retail entity, have been a “dull” retailer run by a “dull” board for nine quarters.

  31. Just sayin...
    8 Mar 12
    4:06 pm

  32. I feel sorry for the other clients D5 has…they must be worried about the lack of attention heading their way…and poss. Qantas for that matter.

  33. Sue
    8 Mar 12
    6:51 pm

  34. “Nobbie could convince Vegans to eat meat – he is without doubt a most talented presenter.”

    Better than Mike Morrison?????? I find that hard to believe.

  35. Simple Life
    9 Mar 12
    12:02 pm

  36. Makes you wonder. Have loved the WW marketing campagns over the years and their strength as the fresh food people. They seemed to have lost their way and tried anything and everything instead of just staying on the same path and building on it.

    I think that the WW marketing team influenced these continual changes in comms because they lost confidence in themselves, don’t think it will change with a new agency.

    One of my absolute fav’s ad for WW has been the tradies eating their hot cross buns in the carpark of a store. Have to say that M&C’s work over the years has had some quality moments.

  37. Mike fan
    10 Mar 12
    1:52 am

  38. I’m with Sue. Mike rules!

  39. Love Droga but...
    24 Mar 12
    5:23 pm

  40. Unfortunately they just don’t seem to get Australia.

    While creative, the VB stuff decreased sales. The Renault stuff was WTF retail at its best. The Telstra stuff hasn’t really come off at all.

    It’s a shame, because I get what they’re trying to do – raise a bar that’s been much needed. But their humour and ideas don’t connect with the masses the way someone such as Clems Melbourne do.