Updated: Droga5 ECD Steve Coll departs to join With Collective with Droga creative chairman David Nobay returning full-time

steve coll mumbrella360

Steve Coll speaking at this year’s Mumbrella360 conference

UPDATED: Steve Coll has departed Droga5 just 15 months after joining the struggling agency to become partner and chief creative officer with emerging digital creative agency With Collective.

His departure from the role of executive creative director at Droga sees creative chairman and industry veteran David Nobay returning full-time to the agency.

It was announced Coll was departing Havas Worldwide after three-and-a-half years to Droga5 in March last year, just days after it was revealed Droga5 had lost its largest clients with Wooloworths which moved across to Leo Burnett Sydney.

However in that time the agency has picked up just one major client – Netflix – and is thought to have just three clients on retainer at the moment.

In a statement on his departure Coll said: “The decision to resign wasn’t something I took lightly, especially as there are very few companies with the world-class reputation of Droga 5 and clearly a lot of exciting things planned for the agency. But this felt like the right time for me to fulfil some long-standing ambitions. I am grateful to both Nobby and Sudeep for their support. We part ways as good friends and I have great admiration for both.

“I’ve learned an enormous amount from working with these two top class, talented and tenacious people, and indeed from my experience of working with everyone at Droga5, especially a first-class creative department. It’s also been wonderful tutelage learning from outstanding creative business leaders like David Droga and Nobby. I wish the Droga5 team all the very best.”

Northern Irishman Coll is a highly experienced creative director who has picked up both creative and effectiveness awards globally, and claims to have won more Creative Effectiveness Lions at Cannes than anyone else in the world.

With Collective is primarily known for its digital creative work across brands, and was founded in 2010 by Dominique Hind, with her husband Justin Hind coming on board in 2011 as CEO of the agency. Last month it was handed the Direct Agency of the Year title at the Mumbrella Awards.

Coll will join as a partner and chief creative officer of the agency, although it is unclear whether he has taken equity. See the full press release on his move below.

David Nobay

David Nobay

Nobay, who founded the Sydney arm of Droga5 alongside current CEO and partner Sudeep Gohil, has been in a chairman position for the last few years and will return to the agency to fully oversee the agency’s creative product.

In a statement he said: “After 20 years as an executive creative director in Sydney, New York and London, I was itching to try some things outside the immediate industry. However, what Sudeep, David Droga and I also acknowledged this year is that it’s also impossible to be “half pregnant”. The business is moving and changing too quickly to not be across every part of it. You’re either 100 per cent out, or 100 per cent in. I chose the latter.

“Sudeep and I have a huge debt of gratitude for Steve. He’s a natural creative leader and, on a personal level, one of the kindest, most generous guys I’ve ever met. I will leave it for him to discuss his plans at the appropriate time. Suffice to say, his move is a chance for him to make a massive creative impact, and he leaves as a good friend who, I suspect, we may soon be collaborating with again!”

Droga5 has shed a number of clients in the last 18 months, most notably Woolworths. The agency also saw the Sunbeam account move to The Works in May, and lost ING Bank in July.

It has been long rumoured the agency has lost the Qantas account – and was not involved in its latest brand campaign – although the airline has previously declined to confirm it.

Telstra also took Droga5 off retainer in the second half of 2013, with the telco saying the agency remained on the roster. However no work has come out of the agency recently with most creative being pushed from DDB, Clemenger BBDO Sydney and The Monkeys.

According to The Source Droga5 clients currently include Lynx, Tiger Beer, Netflix and Helloworld, it is not clear if these are retained relationships.

Nobay said: “Hindsight is a wonderful thing. In retrospect, it’s easy to see that we got a little too big, a little too quickly. Something had to give, and, for us, that was probably our creative culture, more than anything. You don’t see that when you’re in the middle of it. It’s an incremental thing. But it’s a precious thing too; hard fought for and too easily lost.”

sudeep gohill communications council

Sudeep Gohil

Gohil said: “Nobby and I have worked together for many years prior to Droga5. The opportunity to work with him is why I moved to Sydney originally and we have a proven track record together. Partnering up again to restructure and grow our agency under a new remit from New York and with our new partners WME/IMG seemed irresistible. Departing ECD, Steve Coll, said his resignation had been a difficult decision.”

On the changes Droga5 founder David Droga said: “Eight years ago, I chose Nobby to front my first agency outside of New York. I did that for a simple reason: I respected his creative and business talent as a world-class leader, who shared my ambitions for the company. 8 years later, that faith hasn’t shifted. But he needed to be more focused. He now recognises that. And that’s all I need to know”.

In 2013 William Morris Endeavour Entertainment (WME) took a minority interest in Droga5 globally.

“Thanks to our partnership with WME/IMG, the potential for a new client offering is what excites us. It’s the chance to present a very tangible alternative to our clients around the space of brand, talent and social,” said Nobay.

IMG Australia MD Christopher Gilbert said: “It is early days in our relationship with the Droga5 team locally, but with our range of events and growing client relationships we see a great deal of promise for great work between our collective teams.”

Miranda Ward

With Collective media release:

WiTH Collective has announced that highly respected creative director, Steve Coll, will be joining the agency as partner and chief creative officer. Coll was most recently executive creative director at Droga5 Sydney.

Justin Hind, CEO of WiTH Collective, says the hire is a wonderful boost for the agency, which has enjoyed a meteoric first five years. Hind co-founded the agency with wife Dominique Hind in 2010, bringing with them 15 years’ experience at leading international network agencies.

“We established WiTH Collective to help answer real business problems for our clients in the most creative, collaborative and measurable way possible,” says Hind.

“And we believe we’re doing that by embracing data and digital technology in a way that few of our competitors can. In Steve, we’ve hired a first-class creative leader with a reputation for producing campaigns that help transform client’s business. That’s a perfect fit with our culture and a great precursor to our next step.”

Coll is one of Australia’s most respected creative leaders, known for transformative campaigns including McDonald’s ‘Inner Child’; the Walker’s ‘Sandwich’ campaign, which won the inaugural Grand Prix for Creative Effectiveness at Cannes; Virgin Mobile’s ‘Fair Go Bro’, another Cannes winner for Creative Effectiveness; and the wearable tech-led ‘Fundawear’ campaign or Durex.

In total, he has won more than 20 Cannes Lions and a Black Pencil at D&AD.

He is also the only creative to have been invited to join the board of ADMA.

Coll describes his time at Droga5 as a “fantastic learning experience working with very gracious and wonderfully talented people”. Prior to this, he was ECD at Havas Worldwide and named Havas Worldwide ‘Person of the Year’ for 2014 across the 35,000-person agency network.

Coll says the rapidly changing landscape of the advertising industry presents an exciting opportunity.

“WiTH Collective is a wonderful place to realise those opportunities, as the agency has deliberately chosen to sit in a unique space at the intersection of creativity, data and technology,” says Coll. “The future will be won by those brands who know and communicate with customers in the most creative, personal and measurable ways and I know WiTH Collective has their sights set well and truly on that space. I’m also a huge believer in collaboration, a belief I share wholeheartedly with Dominique and Justin. The fact they chose the name WiTH says it all. I couldn’t be more excited about this next step and am looking forward to working with the whole team, and continuing the considerable success WiTH Collective has enjoyed to date.”

As well as winning Mumbrella’s 2015 Direct AOTY, WiTH Collective picked up Campaign Asia Pacific’s Australia and New Zealand 2014 Digital Agency of the Year and AdNews’ 2014 Specialist Agency of the Year. The agency won ‘2013 Start Up of the Year’ in the Telstra NSW Business Awards, the first time an advertising agency has ever claimed the award, and ranked #46 in BRW’s prestigious Fast Starters list for 2014.

Hind added: “Our agency almost entirely consists of smart people who have left network agencies looking for a better way. Our model is very different and our culture is ego-free, not just for a nicer working environment, but because we believe working this way helps us get the best results for our clients.”

WiTH Collective’s client roster includes Qantas Frequent Flyer, Qantas Airlines, The SMH, Melbourne Age, The AFR, GoodFood,, Symantec, Cisco, Pfizer, Google Food, Suncorp Bank and FlexiGroup.


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