Droga: Sydney office was paralysed by early success, but trying again is still on the radar

Australia’s most celebrated advertising export David Droga has gone on the record for the first time on the failure of the Sydney office of his agency Droga5, and suggested he may try again.

Droga: They couldn’t keep up with demand and expectations

In an exclusive interview with Mumbrella, Droga – who is widely accepted to have won more major advertising awards than any other creative in adland history – discussed what went wrong at the agency outpost he was forced to close in 2015.

The agency was led by David Nobay, who has since launched the Sydney office of Publicis Group’s creative agency Marcel and by Sudeep Gohil who last week took on a new role for Publicis in India.

Droga told Mumbrella: “The halo of the brand name got them a lot of open doors, but they couldn’t keep up with demand and expectations.

“They won five of the top 10 biggest accounts in Australia within the first two years. I mean they had Qantas, they had Woolworths, they had Toyota. Agencies spend 20 years courting those clients normally.

“The partners we had were talented and smart, with a good reputation. I just think they got overwhelmed by it. In the first few years they did some work that was really good, but they didn’t wean their way into accounts that were that big and it paralysed them to the point where they couldn’t get their head above water.”

Droga revealed that in the end his decision to pull the plug was not financial, but because he did not believe the work being produced was good enough. He said: “The work started to suffer and I took that very personally because the only reason for me to have an agency was to do work that I loved. For a small brand like ours, our work is our brand. It wasn’t in the end living up to what it could be.”

Signalling that he is likely to open Droga5 in Shanghai soon, Droga also suggested he has not given up on the idea of having an agency in Sydney once more.

He said: It’s on my radar every day emotionally and personally, and I go back every year to visit Australia. The lesson I learnt is that you have to open not just with the right people, but also at the right time – and you have to let it find its feet and its own personality.


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