Creativity Innovators of the Year 2013: Droga5

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Since its launch, Droga5 New York has been a consistent contender and winner of Creativity Agency of the Year accolades, and in 2013 came extremely close to nabbing the top honor again, thanks to a steady stream of standout work for big marketers and small.

Motorola was a new presence on Droga5's roster this year. It's not easy to market the Moto X in a world where iPhones and S4s rule, but the agency gave the brand an impresive head start via a hilarious series of spots directed by Speck & Gordon that anthropomorphized competitor phones as a pudgy, pasty and lazy man that just isn't up to the job.

The agency also continued its category-defying work in the liquor and beer realm. Droga5's ballsy Newcastle Brown Ale campaign has positioned positions the beer as a "No Bollocks" kind of beverage, and this year it expanded the platform with TV ads and a Facebook app that exposed the BS behind social posts. Perhaps the most inventive turn was Independence Eve, a made-up holiday to sell more beer, which was accompanied by clever coasters and OOH signs. The agency also brought more sophistication to Hennessy, with the stylish, seductive story about speed demon Sir Malcolm Campbell, directed by Epoch's Martin de Thurah.

Beyond booze, the agency was an enthusiastic participant in the cola wars--for Coke Zero it de-guilted slacker gamer dudes in an NCAA laffer and generated an online ugly sweater generator for the holidays.

Droga5 ushered UNICEF's Tap Project into its 7th year by turning Facebook into a "water network." The effort started as a simple request asking diners to pay $1 for a glass of New York tap water at restaurants, but for 2013, Droga5 turned Facebook users into "taps," and their networks into "pipes," asking people to donate, then pick two Facebook friends to receive water and a message asking them to give, as well.

Droga5 continued to lend an artistic, innovative touch to clients like the New Museum, for which it developed a campaign designed to promote the "NYC 1993" exhibit. The installation piece used payphones as a conduit to that year -- dial a number from those phones and hear a story specific to the neighborhood and corner you're actually standing at.

In true Droga5 fashion, the innovation didn't stop at the campaigns. Thunderclap, the social amplification platofrm created out of in-house incubator De-De, saw traffic grow sixfold in 2013, and now counts The White House, Phonebloks, and Indian political parties among its users.

Droga5's New Hire Placemat
Droga5's New Hire Placemat

What's special about Droga5, perhaps, is the way this 240-person shop has managed to retain what CCO Ted Royer calls "scrappiness," despite a grown-up roster, and incredibly healthy growth. Even internally, that mentality shows. Perhaps its emblematic that it plans to retain its kitchen-centric approach (free dinners, Pizza Thursdays, placemats with company info for new hires) even in its new, 90,000 square foot office on Wall Street, when it moves this year.

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