SAATCHI'S DROGA HEADING TO LONDON: CREATIVE, MANAGEMENT FLAIR CITED IN MOVE TO FLAGSHIP FROM ASIA

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As part of a global restructuring plan to make Saatchi & Saatchi a hotbed of creative ideas, the agency network early next year will move David Droga across the world from Asia to become executive creative director of its flagship London office.

STAYS IN THE FOLD

Mr. Droga, 30, currently is filling the same role at Saatchi & Saatchi Singapore, as well as the bigger job of regional creative director for Asia-Pacific. His move within the Saatchi network comes after flirting with several U.S. agencies.

In London, he will rank above Joint Executive Creative Directors Adam Kean and John Pallant, who will assume new titles.

Despite his awarding-winning success in Asia, Mr. Droga has few illusions about being welcomed by the sometimes insular and arrogant U.K. creative community.

`I'M AN OUTSIDER'

"I'm a convict coming home, basically," the Australian said with a chuckle.

"I'm sure it's going to be a cold reception," Mr. Droga continued. "I'm an outsider, so my success outside of London will be irrelevant."

That success, however, has been considerable. Since his appointment to the top Asian creative job in 1995, Mr. Droga has played a key role in boosting the billings of Saatchi's Singapore office by 45%, despite Asia's economic crisis. The agency has won new business from clients such as Burger King Corp., Toyota Motor Corp., Starbucks Coffee Co. and Visa International.

8 LIONS, 5 PENCILS

He also is credited with turning the agency into a creative powerhouse.

This year, the Singapore shop won eight Lions at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes and five Pencils at New York's One Show.

Ben Nott, a former art director and copywriter at Saatchi in London and now a director at production company Outsider, noted that "a lot of people will feel that you should do your time in London."

But, he added, "Dave is respected not just because of his creativity, but because of his management skills. He knows how to manage people and how to run big accounts."

Saatchi & Saatchi came close to losing Mr. Droga. Several U.S. agencies, including Fallon McElligott and TBWA/Chiat/Day, were interested in hiring him.

LONDON OPTION CHALLENGING

They are "great" agencies, Mr. Droga said, but he described the timing as premature for him to leave the Saatchi network after his investment in "time, effort and relationships."

Mr. Droga said he chose Saatchi's London office because it's the "heart and soul" of the Saatchi network -- as well as "the most daunting of choices, the most challenging option."

Before joining Saatchi, Mr. Droga was the first employee at Omon, then a new Sydney agency that quickly became a hot shop. In 1992, Omon named him creative director, Australia's youngest at the age of 23.

Contributing: Anthony Vagnoni.

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