Droga5 New York has drummed up plenty of noise for daring clients -- from Jay-Z to Marc Ecko to the New Museum. But what happened when it needed to shine light on what Chief Creative Officer Ted Royer described as "that lumpy box on the shelf you grab when you're out of Oreos?" Turns out, a lot.
For Mondelez's Honey Maid, the agency created one of the year's most talked-about campaigns -- in the real world, and not just the industry. In a spot that's earned 8 million-plus YouTube views the agency updated the idea of a "wholesome" family for the 21st century with images of mixed race clans and gay parents. It then put haters in their place with a response film that transformed all the negative feedback into a sculpture of "Love," surrounded by a sea of positive comments.
But that was just one of the agency's many creative home runs in 2014. For clients big, small, old and new, Droga5 New York created work that once again made the industry re-think what it means to be "innovative" -- easily earning the honor of Creativity Agency of the Year.
As 2014 began and advertisers swung away at the the advertising pinata that is the Super Bowl, the agency stole the show with an ambush campaign for Newcastle Brown Ale that amplified the brand's "No Bollocks" premise with cheeky films, including one starring actress Anna Kendrick imagining what would have happened had she appeared in the brand's big game ad that never ran.
The agency continued to draw its clients into the spotlight throughout the year with more groundbreaking ideas, many of which became part of the cultural conversation: Under Armour's "I Will What I Want" women's campaign revealed supermodel Gisele and ballet dancer Misty Copeland as badasses; a Prudential effort showed how productive retirees could be in late life -- by recruiting them to create the campaign; an app for Tap Project that allowed people to contribute to UNICEF's clean water effort by abstaining from their cellphones -- a model meant to conjure what it's like to go without even something inessential; a heartwarming holiday film that showed how scent can conjure a sense of home for a military dad, for Airwick.
"I feel like the diversity of our work is one of our best and truest assets," said Creative Chairman and Founder David Droga. "We don't have any accounts that we're not trying to move forward or that we're not proud of."
"Droga5 gets that 'if you get in the news, you get the views," said Quinn Kilbury, Senior Brand Director at Heineken and former Newcastle brand director. "Doing what you did yesterday won't get where you need to be tomorrow. They understand the value of smart disruption."
Breaking through the clutter is just part of the Droga5 M.O. Solid strategy supports all of the agency's work -- something Mr. Droga said that for him, has not necessarily always been the case. "There's no question in my younger days, I'd think you could just blink and creative would solve everything. But now it has to be creative on strategy. What's hard is trying to be responsibly creative, versus just creative."
While the Newcastle work, for example, feels as ballsy as some of the agency's early high-profile stunts -- such as the 2006 film for Marc Ecko that showed a tagger spray painting Air Force One -- it's rooted in solid brand insight. Mr. Royer said that the "No Bollocks" tag came straight from the no-B.S. character of the people of the U.K.'s North East "Geordie" region, home of the Newcastle headquarters. That's also where a local told Droga5 staffers, upon learning they were from the U.S., "I fucking hate Americans!" said Mr. Royer.