Creative Chief to Start Own Business Backed by Publicis

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Publicis Worldwide creative chief David Droga is preparing to leave the agency network to start a non-advertising business that’s a joint venture with his current employer.
Publicis creative chief David Droga is leaving to start his own company.

In an interview with AdAge.com, Mr. Droga declined to provide any details about the new company or his partners other than to say they’re not from the advertising industry. It will be based in New York, where Mr. Droga will continue to live, and Los Angeles. Publicis Groupe will be a backer.

Not advertising
“It’s not an advertising venture,” said Mr. Droga, who for years has been one of the industry’s most-watched talents. “It’s a hybrid of a lot of things.”

His decision to leave the traditional-ad-agency setting is yet another signal of the attractiveness of new forms of marketing both to marketers and top talent. Madison Avenue’s giants have been struggling to maintain their relevance in a media and marketing world where the 30-second spot is no longer king as consumers increasingly get news and entertainment from channels like the Internet and mobile phones and are wont to skip over commercials using DVR technology. That’s led to growing reliance on more targeted marketing techniques and the rise of branded entertainment.

“I have a belief in this new model,” he said, referring to the venture. “I’m having a great career, but I’ve spent it working under other people’s models. I think I’d really like to lay down a blueprint of my own. I’d like to have some ownership of it, so there’s more at stake for myself and live or die by my own vision.”

Departure date
Mr. Droga plans to leave within a few months, after finishing projects for Publicis clients that include Vault, Minute Maid and Heineken.

Mr. Droga, who hails from Australia, was selected two-and-a-half years ago to bolster the Paris-based network’s creative reputation. In that time, Publicis has dramatically improved its awards-show performance. This past June, Publicis picked up 11 Cannes Lions and last year it netted 12 -- more than it had won in the previous decade. Mr. Droga has added a 17-member worldwide creative board and replaced leadership in several major markets.

That has translated into some new-business success. Publicis in New York was recently awarded duties for Coca-Cola’s Vault, a citrus-flavored energy drink. The network’s Paris office was among eight shops invited to pitch creative ideas for a global integrated campaign. Client wins in that time include Zurich Financial Services, Sanofi-Aventis, TBS, and Allied Domecq.

Talks with Maurice Levy
Over the past three months, he said, Mr. Droga has been in talks with Publicis Groupe Chairman-CEO Maurice Levy about a change. He described his tenure as a success, citing the awards, new business and new talent, but he added, “There’s no finish line in this business. I’ve certainly put in place an infrastructure. Creative is now at the heart of a company that was a business. It still is a business, but creative is at the table as well.”

Mr. Levy couldn't be reached immediately for comment.

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