Droga5 Starts Work on Prudential in April

Droga5’s first work for new client Prudential Financial will likely break in April, the client said today.

The effort—an umbrella campaign for its master brand—will feature traditional ads as well as Web-based marketing, including social media tactics, said Colin McConnell, head of Prudential Advertising, the company’s in-house agency. Prudential is expected to back the ads with about $50 million in major media spending.

McConnell discussed the New York shop’s initial work after finally confirming the hiring of the agency, months after the independent started to develop its pitch ideas. The hire followed a review in which Publicis Groupe-backed Bartle Bogle Hegarty in New York was the other finalist. Another contender—Omnicom Group’s GSD&M Idea City in Austin, Texas—presented work but was cut before the final round.

The review was unusual in that Prudential Financial paid each finalist for its pitch concepts, thereby assuming ownership before hiring a shop. But unlike other marketers, who offer stipends in the tens of thousands of dollars, this client paid each presenter more than $300,000 for work and labor. Ark Advisors in New York managed the search.

At the onset of the review, Prudential Financial said it needed an agency for a project. Today, however, McConnell described Droga5 as Prudential Financial’s lead creative agency and said the new shop would create both corporate image work and business unit ads as needed. Prudential Advertising handles the bulk of the company’s business unit efforts.

“It’s a divide and conquer” approach, McConnell said. “Generally speaking we’re expecting our partners at Droga to be responsible for the brand-level communication. In-house we’re going to be concentrating on more of the business unit and product-level campaigns. Obviously, there are gray areas in between, which will be highly collaborative” efforts.

The Newark, N.J.–based client offers life insurance, mutual funds, annuities and investment services, including retirement planning.

Droga5 founder David Droga expressed no reservations about collaborating with a house agency, noting that he has done so in the past, such as when he worked on TBS as worldwide cd at Publicis.

“When there’s a unified mandate and leadership, there’s never an issue,” Droga said. “When you rally behind a great idea and a common purpose, there’s enough in it for everybody.”

Media duties were not part of the review and remain in-house.