and Cliff Freeman. The two decided to parody flashy presentations by using irrelevant fishing charts as their sole support materials. Then they described a campaign tagged "Very funny," with ads that show people dialing an 800 number to find out if they're in the midst of a funny situation. The meeting was scheduled for two hours, but the business was theirs in 30 minutes.
"[Droga and Willmott] brought four scripts on paper," says TBS chief operating officer Steve Koonin. "They said, 'Buy our ideas, not our charts.' They talked to us and made us laugh. It was clear they had a deep understanding of comedy. The nine of us in the room just looked at each other and said, 'Let's hire these guys.'"
The win was a morale boost to the office. Droga's role in New York—his location of choice rather than Paris or London—is still being determined. By his own admission, it's difficult for him to step back from hands-on involvement in the work, but he says he's trying to become more of a "godfather" adviser. This spring, he consolidated the creative troops on the agency's 11th floor. They celebrated the change with a feng shui blessing, a lion-dragon parade---a Droga practice in his last couple of jobs—Chinese musicians and dim sum.
"David leads from the trenches. He'll be in there, sleeves rolled up, cajoling, encouraging and rallying," says former Saatchi colleague Calvin Soh, creative director at Fallon, Singapore. "Wherever he goes, he creates an environment that is highly competitive yet with an incredible sense of esprit de corps."
Droga is making his presence felt in other ways. He helped recruit New York CEO Gill Duff, formerly an account head on FedEx at BBDO, New York. While there were rumors of tensions between Droga and Gianinno, who had been filling that role, Gianinno says the stories are "ludicrous and a source of humor" between the two. With a new team in place and Droga focused on New York, more changes can be expected in the office he plans to make into a proper flagship. "I want the agency's work to be more distinctive, to have more voice," he says. "I'm impatient. I want us to be among the best agency networks."
Bob Isherwood, worldwide creative director at Saatchi and mentor to Droga, has no doubt he'll reach his goal. "All of Dave's challenges have been big: starting an agency [Omon] at 21; running a region for a multinational; taking on London," he says. "He likes scary challenges for which he might not be ready. But I knew I could always trust him to deliver—he never let me down."