Ancestry.com has hired Droga5 as its lead creative agency to help the brand shift from celebrating consumers' family history to helping people use past records to inspire future decisions.
"We're in the business of helping people understand themselves and where they come from, but we want to take the brand and lean it forward," said Vineet Mehra, who joined Ancestry earlier this year as chief marketing officer. "We want to continue to celebrate our history with the unique purpose of inspiring people to do something differently with their lives and understand that our past is a big driver of where we want to go in the future."
The genetic testing category has been growing, with competitors such as Color Genomics and 23andMe investing more money and expanding their services. 23andMe recently latched onto marketing for the forthcoming movie "Despicable Me 3" with an ad depicting super-villain Gru exploring his DNA. The spot, by agency Haymaker, features Gru finding family through 23andMe's DNA Relatives Tool, where his results reflect the existence of his long-lost twin brother Dru.
Mehra said Ancestry, which has been around since 1983, is spending more on marketing than it ever has done before because the genomics category is exploding and generating demand. The brand's overall marketing budget is "well above $100 million," he said. The new initiative will cost "in the tens of millions of dollars," he added.
Droga was appointed lead agency without a review because Mehra said the shop has a long track record of breakthrough, multi-channel work that has cultural impact. Mehra even spent a couple of days with the Droga team before he officially stepped into the Ancestry marketing role to discuss the brand's strategy for the future.
Sprint also hired Droga without a review last fall, citing Creative Chairman and Founder David Droga's reputation in the ad world as reason enough.
Prior to Droga, Ancestry worked with various small agencies on specific projects. Droga5, which was named independent agency of the year at the Effie Awards last week, will also lead Ancestry's new inter-agency team. Ancestry is in the process of searching for an agency to handle PR and social, but is already working with OMD on media.
Ancestry's new multichannel marketing campaign will begin at the end of the summer and will include traditional TV advertising. Leading up its start, Mehra said the brand will attach itself to "cultural moments," such as July 4th, to "celebrate how we all came to be."
In addition to using history to inspire the future, Mehra said the campaign is aimed at showing how connected all of humanity is despite recent political tensions and divisiveness. "We want to take our brand to a place that goes way above activism and politics into humanity and culture," he said.