The Player: Droga's mad dash at Publicis gains fans at P&G, Heineken

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It's almost a year since Dave Droga accepted the job of global chief creative officer at Publicis Groupe's Publicis Worldwide. In that short time, Mr. Droga, 34, has been inducted into the American Advertising Federation's Advertising Hall of Achievement, overseen Procter & Gamble Co.'s Super Bowl spot and installed at least eight new creative chiefs around the world.

His ultimate ambition is, he said, "To take one of the leading businesses in the industry and show how you can move it creatively, fast."

Despite his desire to see immediate change, adjusting to the U.S. market has been a hard slog for Mr. Droga, as it is for most foreign ad executives. Steve Davis, senior VP-marketing, Heineken USA, said that learning the U.S. market has been a challenge for Mr. Droga given its competitiveness.

"I've seen him grow and develop in terms of self confidence and executive maturity," Mr. Davis s aid, "He felt like he had to have all the answers. Now he is a more effective listener."

"I was like O.K., show me. ... I don't care what you've done before. [But] he made exactly the right observations. He has a great amount of self awareness and I'm excited about our first round of work," he said.

worldwide effort

Mr. Droga is still working on many campaigns outside the U.S. Christian Barluet, international advertising director at French automaker Renault, has just begun to collaborate with Mr. Droga on new work. "We are very confident in his ability to bring in good creatives. He is an outstanding creative guy," Mr. Barluet said.

Just this month, Mr. Droga brought in Olivier Altmann who joined as creative director at Publicis Conseil, in Paris, from Omnicom Group's BDDP & Fils. He followed that with the appointment of a new senior creative duo with a unique roving global brief. They are former Comedy Central writer Ken Ratcliffe and Ted Royer, former Wieden associate creative director. The two were tapped to form a global creative task force whose job it is to parachute into Publicis offices whenever needed.

The two new appointees, who will be based in New York, have already jetted off on their first assignment-a three-month stint at Publicis Mojo in Sydney, Australia, which works with Coca-Cola Co., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Nike. Mr. Royer became acting executive creative director of that office as of Feb. 1.

P&G certainly seem thrilled with the results so far. Mr. Droga attended a P&G summit at the end of January.

"If you look at the work coming out of Publicis on Charmin, on Bounty globally, there are some really cool things happening," said Jim Stengel, P&G's global marketing officer. "We asked him to share one big idea outside the company and he talked about the Heineken campaign, which to me is a stroke of brilliance in how they thought about that brand in different ways."

Mr. Droga has brought in a slew of talent in other offices. Two new executive creative directors came to New York in June 2003. Howard Willmott and Duncan Marshall come from Mr. Droga's former office, Saatchi & Saatchi, London, a corporate sibling. The Publicis, New York, office counts P&G, Heineken, Fuijifilm USA and Pfizer among its larger clients.

Throughout 2003, Mr. Droga drafted new talent around the globe. In London, Nik Studzinksi came aboard as executive creative director and Gavin Kellet as creative director. For the Australia/New Zealand executive creative director post he drafted Nick Worthington. In Italy, Alasdhair MacGregor was named executive creative director. Kirk Souder was appointed executive creative director at its San Francisco outpost, Publicis Hal Riney. And Mr. Droga has also created an 18-person worldwide board of top regional creative executives who meet every two to three months.

Mr. Stengel is clearly a fan of what Mr. Droga has already achieved. "It is important that the creative community thinks we are a magnet client and that we will be rewarding of their best work. And getting him to think that way is a big deal."

Resume

Name: David Droga

Age: 34

Now: Global executive creative director, Publicis Groupe's Publicis Worldwide

Who: Australian-born Mr. Droga has not only worked his way around the world but up the corporate ladder. He leapt from Saatchi & Saatchi in London last year to helm Publicis Worldwide creatively around the world. He formally arrived in July and yet he's already been drafted to help New York compete for the Olympics in 2012

Challenge: To change an agency's standing with creative.

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