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Droga5 sells to Accenture Interactive

Accenture Interactive is to acquire iconic agency Droga5 in the largest deal to date by the consulting firm’s agency arm.

Under the deal announced in New York, Snowy Mountains-born founder David Droga is to remain as creative chairman of Droga5 with Sarah Thompson keeping her role as global CEO and Bill Scott as UK boss. Droga5 closed its Sydney operations in 2015.

Brian Whipple (left), global CEO, Accenture Interactive and David Droga (right), founder & creative chairman, Droga5

The deal sees Droga5 join The Monkeys in the Accenture stable. The Monkeys was acquired by Accenture for $63m in 2017 as part of the consulting firm’s global series of agency acquisitions that have seen it buy UK’s Karmarama, design firm Fjord and e-commerce specialist Acquity Group.

Droga was not always keen on selling his business, telling Mumbrella Asia at the time of launching Droga5’s Beijing Office in 2017: “I’m not interested in selling. Every man, cat and his dog has tried to buy us. I wasn’t trying to build something to sell.

“I do feel great that we sold a minority share because they {William Morris Endeavor} added a different arm, access and influence. And it allowed all my partners to buy houses and that sort of stuff so it took the worry away that they had to sacrifice anything.

“But we love our independence. We call our own shots. We are at the mercy of our own genius or stupidity, not some boardroom we have no influence on or a stock price. That’s powerful and motivating. It ensures we make decisions based on our ethos and not an annual report. Hopefully, people see that in our work. It is no coincidence that independent agencies do better work.

“I’m not saying every independent is great and every multinational is terrible. When I worked at other companies before Droga5, no matter how high I got in the food chain I always felt puppet strings above me. You know mate, I’m a control freak. I like my own thing.”

Since Droga founded the New York based agency in 2006, the agency has won multiple awards including more than 70 Gold and 15 Titanium Lions at Cannes. In 2017, the Cannes Festival gave him their top honour for outstanding contributions to the industry.

Droga became a partner an executive creative director of OMON Sydney in 1990 at the age of 22. Six years later, he moved to Singapore to become ECD of Saatchi & Saatchi Singapore and regional creative director of Saatchi Asia before moving to London with the agency in 1999.

In 2003, he was appointed worldwide chief creative officer of the Publicis Network based in New York before founding his own agency three years later.

Despite his successes in the US and UK, Droga’s Australian venture was not so stellar with its much hyped Sydney office closing in 2015 after seven years of underperformance.

Chief executive and founding partner of the Sydney office, Sudeep Gohil, referred to the Droga5 brand as a “blessing and a curse” at the 2015 Mumbrella360 conference saying the name opened doors but also set an “incredibly high bar for us to live up to”.

The Sydney office had an early wins with Foster’s, however their ‘regulars’ VB campaign underwhelmed the market and the account was lost to Clemenger Melbourne three years later.

Winning the Woolworths account in 2012 proved to be the Australian branch’s undoing with one insider telling Mumbrella: “No one joined Droga to work on press ads for the Bendigo Advertiser and that’s what it became about.”

In closing the Sydney office, Droga described it as “a very difficult decision, both professionally and personally, and as a proud Australian, it was a bitter pill to swallow,” justifying the shutdown by saying the Australian arm “no longer consistently represents the Droga5 brand”.

Droga said of the Accenture deal: “This is the start of an exciting new chapter in Droga5’s history. Accenture Interactive is one of the most disruptive forces in the industry, and we have always been a safe space for audacious ideas.

“I’m confident they are the best partner to grow our business and provide greater opportunities for our clients and our people. Why live off past glories when you can get busy trying to create new ones?”

David Rowland, interim chief executive officer at Accenture, added: ““Customer experience is a proven driver of competitive advantage and sustained business growth – and, we are delighted to bring Droga5’s highly differentiated capabilities to help Accenture Interactive transform experiences for our clients’ customers and continue to be a catalyst for disruption across the industry.”

Completion of the acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, including antitrust clearance. Financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed.

 

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