Droga’s Delicious World

Mondelez, Coca-Cola fuel growth, as Prudential gets love at Cannes

Some 400 members of Mondelez International’s global team huddled in Istanbul two months ago to talk about the company’s future. It was their first meeting since Kraft spun off the new snack foods business earlier in the year, and the assembled represented Mondelez’s leaders across developing markets, which constitute some 44 percent of its revenue and drive its growth.

Just one individual outside Mondelez was tapped for that meeting: David Droga.

With the founder and creative chairman of agency Droga5, “you feel that kind of sense of calm,” says Dana Anderson, svp of marketing strategy and communication at Mondelez (a mash-up of the Latin terms for “delicious” and “world”). “And boy, he sure knows where he’s going, and you feel comfortable, like ‘I’ll get in the car.’ ”

The hard-boiled creative competence of Droga5, Adweek’s U.S. Agency of the Year, was on full display in 2012. U.S. revenue grew 43 percent to an estimated $41 million, as the agency attracted brands like American Express Travel. It bolstered its rep for good works, raising more than $1 million to bring clean water to kids in need in the sixth year of its Tap Project for Unicef, and winning the Cannes Grand Prix for Good with its bone marrow donor campaign for Help Remedies.

The agency deepened its New York roots, hiring and promoting key talent as it grew its digital business and expanded offerings to include analytics, public relations and a strategic consulting service, Point. It also launched De-De, a separate business aimed at designing and developing tech products. Its first product was Thunderclap, a crowd-organizing tool for Twitter that was employed by President Obama’s reelection campaign.

Significantly, Droga5 this year earned the confidence of clients at multibrand corporations, and turned that trust into additional assignments. Total agency revenue from Kraft and Mondelez spiked by some 140 percent, driven by the addition of the Cracker Barrel and Honey Maid brands. Droga5 declined to name any other Kraft or Mondelez products it may be working on, but, according to industry sources, it also added responsibilities for breakfast brand belVita. All told, Kraft-Mondelez became Droga5’s biggest source of revenue in 2012.

“They are as concerned and interested and passionate about strategy as they are about the work itself as well as they are about their relationship with you,” says Anderson. “It’s incredible quality control.”

Adds Pio Schunker, svp of integrated marketing platforms for North America at Coca-Cola: “Whether it’s Prudential, whether it’s Puma, whether it’s Newcastle, they really adapt themselves to the brand in question.” In August, Droga5 was hired as lead creative on Coke Zero, which spent $35 million on media in 2011, per Kantar. Shortly thereafter, Coca-Cola handed Droga5 Smartwater, which spent $11 million across media in 2011.

“They don’t impose their brand on the brand, and that was a really crucial factor for us—that [the campaign] needed to feel like Coke Zero, that it did not need to feel like a Droga5 campaign,” Schunker says.

When Droga5 launched in 2006, Droga was already a star, having risen through Saatchi & Saatchi to become global CCO of Publicis Worldwide. It didn’t take long for his namesake agency to make waves. Its first ever ad, a subversive video stunt featuring designer Marc Ecko spray painting graffiti on a plane resembling Air Force One, went viral, forcing a denial from the Pentagon and winning a Grand Prix at Cannes.

Fast-forward to 2012, when the agency’s Prudential campaign, revolving around the first day of retirement, picked up a gold Lion in the south of France. The staid financial giant, which hired Droga5 in 2010, is now the agency’s second largest client.

“What we tried to do with Ecko was relevant to his category, to his audience—street-wise and much grittier,” Droga explains. “For Prudential, it was the same philosophy. We tried to do something that elevated the category but speaks to its audience.”

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