The Player: Droga to lead creative revival as Publicis makes itself over

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Given the exotic choice by Maurice Levy of living in New York, Paris or London, David Droga has picked the U.S. as his base as the first worldwide creative director of Publicis Worldwide.

Mr. Droga, 34, is switching Publicis Groupe networks after three years as executive creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi's London agency (see Global Agency Network of the Year, P. S-4). He moves to a network that is being transformed with a new management team and an influx of Procter & Gamble Co. and other business from the now-closed D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles. Mr. Levy remains chairman-CEO of the Paris-based Publicis network he built, as well as chairman-CEO of the holding company.

"I've never spoken to Maurice Levy so much in my life," Mr. Droga said. "No matter what he owns, Publicis is closest to his heart. He wants to get its profile back. That happens through creative."

Publicis needs a creative transformation. It ranked No. 15 of 18 networks in the 2002 Gunn Report, a ranking by worldwide creative awards won. Saatchi placed second after Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide. In a ranking of individual agency offices, Mr. Droga's London agency was second, after Wieden & Ken-nedy, Portland, Ore.

During their talks, Mr. Droga told Mr. Levy: "I need 100% support from you and a clear mandate. You're buying change."

Change could be Mr. Droga's middle name (although it's really "Bjorn"). At 27, already a partner in Sydney agency Omon, Mr. Droga left his native Australia to be Saatchi's creative director for Singapore and eventually all of Asia.

In Singapore, Mr. Droga asked his creative department which account was the hardest to win a creative award for. He then led the Hewlett-Packard Co. account himself to promote teamwork and demonstrate that good creative work is possible for any client. The result was his award-winning "Alien" spot for high-definition printers. A space probe travels around a planet's surface, finding only dust and rocks, thanks to aliens printing out pictures of rocks on their HP printer and holding them in front of the probe to hide an alien city.

Mr. Droga describes his own style: "I act like a leader, not a boss."

leaving a Powerhouse

After three years, Mr. Droga passed on a U.S. job at Fallon Worldwide and moved in 1999 to London, to Saatchi's flagship agency. He leaves a creative powerhouse, one that was notorious all year for the Club 18-30 Holidays mural-like print ads of holiday makers appearing to engage in sex acts that won the print Grand Prix at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes.

"David is fresh and open, with a lot of enthusiasm," Mr. Levy said. He had courted Lee Garfinkel, D'Arcy's creative director, for the Publicis post right up until he joined Omnicom Group's DDB last month, but Mr. Levy is clearly pleased to have a young creative director with global experience. "With David, we have a talent for the future."

contributing: normandy madden

Fast Facts

Name: David Droga

Age: 34

Now: First Worldwide Creative Director, Publicis Groupe's Publicis Worldwide

Challenge: Work his magic on Maurice Levy's favorite agency network

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