Droga5 is making one of its first significant moves since its acquisition by Accenture Interactive with new creative leadership promotions aimed at furthering global expansion.
Droga5's New York Chief Creative Officer Neil Heymann becomes the agency's first-ever global chief creative officer, while Executive Creative Directors Felix Richter and Tim Gordon step into Heymann's former role as co-chief creative officers. Executive Creative Director Alexander Nowak assumes the new post of global head of art; Group Creative Juliana Cobb moves up to executive creative director and former group account director Julia Albu now serves as head of creative integration.
According to Droga5 Founder and Creative Chairman David Droga, the new appointments will help prepare the agency as it grows around the world, and are its next step in trying to build on its acquisition by Accenture Interactive last April.
“I want to amplify the opportunities we have, and I’m putting people at the front lines to do that,” he says. “My priority is about making sure we live up to the expectations, and also working hand in glove with Brian [Whipple, Accenture Interactive global CEO] to see what we can do together. One of the first things to do is about making it legitimate. With these promotions, we’re putting a stake in the ground.’”
At the time of the acquisition, Whipple called the move an “an evolution in Accenture Interactive's journey to build a new agency model” and was perhaps the most high-profile move the industry has seen to date when it comes to companies trying to combine data and technology capabilities with creative muscle.
Currently, Droga5 has offices in New York and London. It once had an office based in Sydney, which shuttered in 2015. With the future expansion, however, it’s not about a “land grab,” Droga says. In some markets, it will be about working alongside existing Accenture Interactive shops, while “in a couple of relevant markets, it will be about creating a beachhead there,” bolstered by capabilities of both Droga5 and Accenture.
Droga says the agency is currently in the midst of pitches for global clients, alongside Accenture Interactive, that he declined to name.
Ad Age Datacenter has ranked Accenture Interactive as the world’s largest digital network for the past four years (2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018). The agency currently operates in 39 countries.
While the Accenture Interactive deal is one impetus behind the promotions, Droga also says it’s also largely about providing more opportunities for his team. “I’m spoiled with talent here,” he says. “It’s about being able to bring people up so they can work with you shoulder to shoulder.” In expanding the agency's reach globally, “now there’s plenty of runway to help them become what they’re meant to become.”
Most of those promoted today started at Droga5 early in their careers. Heymann joined the agency in 2009 as an associate digital creative director. As he oversaw award-winning campaigns for Microsoft Bing, MailChimp, Google and more, he rose the ranks steadily, last becoming the agency’s New York creative chief in May.
While the global chief creative officer title has often been viewed in the industry as an “ambassador” and awards-focused post at big network shops, Heymann’s “comes with a real mandate,” Droga says. He will lead the expansion to other markets and help establish the beachheads while having a full-time focus on global opportunities.
Richter and Gordon will oversee the entire New York creative department. Richter started in the agency as a copywriter, while Gordon began as an intern before landing a post as junior copywriter. Between them, they’ve steered the agency’s award-winning work, including Cannes Lions Grand Prix-winning efforts for Under Armour, Mailchimp and The New York Times, among others. Nowak began as an art director, bringing striking visual approaches to work for Hennessy, Under Armour, Google and Nordstrom. As global head of art, he will be tasked with bringing more craft and conceptual creative across all offices.
Cobb bolsters the senior leadership bench, having proven herself on work for Chase, Blue Apron and Thorne, while Head of Creative Integration Albu, who joined the agency as account director in 2006, will now oversee operations for the creative and design departments.