Droga5 to shut its Sydney office in what agency founder describes as a ‘bitter pill to swallow’

droga5 logoDroga5 is to close its underperforming Sydney office, just two months after the shock departure of executive creative director Steve Coll.

The withdrawal from Australia after seven years in business in that market will give the group more scope to focus on exploring opportunities to expand elsewhere, including China, the agency’s CEO has said.



“This was obviously a very difficult decision, both professionally and personally, and as a proud Australian, it was a bitter pill to swallow,” said David Droga, creative chairman and founder of Droga5.

“However, we see little value in continuing to operate in this market with an office that, sadly, no longer consistently represents the Droga5 brand.

At the time of Coll’s departure, Droga5 Sydney CEO and partner Sudeep Gohil admitted the agency had failed to live up to the reputation forged from its flagship New York office, but said the return of creative chairman David Nobay to the agency was “getting the band back together”.

Mumbrella understands Gohil and Nobay have been in New York in recent days meeting with senior Droga5 management.

The office will officially close its doors before the end of the year.

Steve Coll left the agency at the start of July with the creative agency positioning the move as David Nobay’s full-time return to the agency.

The agency has struggled to fire after losing its major client Woolworths in March last year.

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.



In July, Gohil said the agency had 43 staff members with a  “couple, three or four, of core retained clients”, while the rest the client relationships were based on project work. It is unclear what the closure means for staff or clients.

Heineken-Tiger and Coca-Cola Asia-Pacific are the agency’s two largest retained pieces of business, with Netflix and travel brand Helloworld rounding out the retained list.

“We continue to realize strong growth in the U.S., and are focusing on creating a world- class leadership team in Europe while simultaneously exploring potential models of offerings in China as our two key priorities outside the U.S.,” said Sarah Thompson, Droga5’s global CEO in a report on Campaign Brief.

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.

At the start of last month the agency Droga5 invested funds into startup incubator Startmate as it looked to tap into new creative and technological expertise and “shake the agency out of its comfort zone”.

It is unclear what will happen with that project, or the staff remaining at the agency.

Miranda Ward and Nic Christensen 



Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.