David & Goliath founder on what people get wrong about brand purpose
Not many advertising executives can claim to have started their career as a teamster. But David Angelo logged some time working warehouses and driving a forklift when he was kicked out of high school. An inauspicious beginning, perhaps. But this year Angelo is celebrating 30 years in the ad business, the past 20 of them at David & Goliath, the agency he founded
“Everything goes back to the core of who I am and where I’m from,” he says on the latest edition of the “Ad Lib” podcast.
In a wide-ranging conversation, Angelo looks back at a three-decade career that started as a junior art director at DDB New York, followed by stints at Chiat/Day and Cliff Freeman & Partners. We talk about what prompted him to hang his own shingle 20 years ago and how the industry has changed in the intervening years. One thing that has remained consistent through it all for him is, he says, a fascination with bravery.
“The definition of bravery for us isn’t about jumping out of an airplane or wrestling a lion or any of that stuff,” he says. “And it certainly isn’t about trying to shove work down a client’s throat and say ‘buy this if you’re brave.’ Brave is having the courage to be who you are because it takes a lot of work. it takes a lot of bravery to be honest, to be authentic.”
David & Goliath, founded as a creative independent shop, was bought in 2017 by Innocean, the agency created by Hyundai. “It just happened out of nowhere,” he says. “They called me up and we were talking to a few holding companies out there and it didn’t feel right. At the end of the day it all comes down to casting. If you’re going to sell to someone then you have to find a company that shares your values or at least understands your values.”
The acquisition was the culmination of a years-long relationship: The shop’s original client was a little-known car brand called Kia, which is part-owned by Hyundai.
“They used to be the butt of Jay Leno’s jokes to being one of the fastest growing car brands in America,” he says. “It was all because they embraced their challenger spirit.”
Angelo also mentions that Kia will be returning to the Super Bowl for the eleventh consecutive year.
On the podcast, we’ll talk about life after acquisition, working in advertising in Los Angeles as opposed to New York and what people get wrong about brand purpose. “We have to start by talking about the misperception of purpose. Everyone thinks that purpose is about doing something good for the world. It really isn’t,” he says. “Purpose at the heart of purpose is your truth. It’s all about embracing your truth of who you are and what you stand for.”