Droga 5 Leverages Australian Roots for U.S. Media Venture

Teams With Down Under Shop to Launch Ikon 3

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Independent agency Droga 5 is joining forces with Australia-based Ikon Communications to launch a new media venture this fall dubbed Ikon 3.

The partnership aims to provide Droga with the media expertise it needs to bring current and prospective clients a full-service offering, and at the same time gives Ikon a creative boost and entry into the U.S. ad market. Said Mr. Droga in a statement: "We've wanted to have high-end media capability since we started the agency, and Ikon's approach to channel planning, how they amplify a brand idea and their dynamic trading expertise represent the industry's best in field. This marks a new level of maturity for Droga 5 as we continue to expand."

The venture comes as innovative media shops are in high demand, attracting looks from holding companies such as Dentsu that need to beef up their media chops, and from indie creative and digital agencies agencies that want to deliver media capabilities to clients. Rosemarie Ryan and Ty Montague's recently opened brand studio, Co:, has forged a partnership with independent Horizon Media, one of a handful of hot media targets out there.

Ikon this summer sold its remaining 10% stake to Australia's biggest marketing conglomerate, STW Group. The agency, which has several offices in Australia and a small New Zealand presence, has won a raft of local awards for its work with global marketers such as Coca-Cola, Vodafone and Sony Music, and even has a Cannes Lion under its belt for its Atari work.

Ikon 3, which is slated to open in November, will sit inside Droga 5's New York office, serving as the shop's in-house media partner and eventually plans to go after outside clients too. Currently, though, it has zero clients signed on and is still in the midst of hiring talent. Among the roles it's expected to fill are channel and engagement planners, media-planners and buyers, as well as mobile and search specialists, said Gary Hardwick, head of Ikon.

It's not the first time Messrs. Hardwick and Droga have worked together; they were colleagues in the mid-1990s at Omon, an agency. Last October, the duo caught up and began plotting a way to launch a new offering together. Said Mr. Hardwick: "I've had a personal long-held belief that the pulling apart of creative and media did the client and client's business a disservice, and the key benefit for us to be able to work collaboratively with Droga5."

Another big benefit? That stateside presence. "It's still the biggest market in the world," Mr. Hardwick said of the U.S.

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