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Cannes Lions 2018: David Droga talks about his life-changing moments

At the opening session at the festival of creativity, Droga, the Founder and Chairman of Droga5, talks about his life journey and the little things in his life that have helped shaped him the kind of person he is today

David Droga

Cannes Lions 2018 opened with David Droga, Founder and Chairman, Droga5’s jam-packed session ‘I’m not sure I’m right, but who is?’ The last year’s Lion for St. Mark awardee, Droga talked about his life-changing moments that shaped his life and made him what he is today.

Born in a remote place in Australia, Droga always wanted to be a writer since his childhood. He started his first job at Grey at their mailroom. Droga believes that he got his greatest learnings working in the mailroom of the advertising agency. Droga then moved on to become a junior copywriter at FCB. The job at FCB transformed him into a good leader where he was not treated well by his company CEO and thus joined a start-up after staying only for six to seven months at the agency.

“At that time I decided that I will never ever talk to anyone like that. How you carry yourself, behave with people decides how good a leader you are.”

From there he moved on to join a start-up in Australia that had no clients, no furniture but wanted to do great work.

Droga said, “Choosing mentors over no security, particularly at that age, was more important for me. I have always believed that good intentions along with talent powers creativity.”

At the start-up agency, Droga got the opportunity to do his first print and television ad. Talking about the lesson he learnt while his first print ad, Droga said, “Never trust the people who love you.”

He asked his mother, did she like the print ad? His mother reacted in a way as if she was very moved by the ad and it was amazing. To his surprise, he got to know later that his mother was seeing another ad and not his.

Droga also got 25% stake in the agency. After making the start-up agency run successfully, a network agency acquired it and because he did not want to settle down back then, Droga decided to leave his stake in the agency and moved on to Singapore and then to London. In London, he joined Saatchi & Saatchi and made the agency the no.1 agency at that point of time.

In 2004, Droga joined Publicis in New York as the Chief Creative Officer. Droga said, “If you are a great person and doing impacting and touching work, you can’t say to yourself that you are happy, no matter how good your salary and perks are, if you are not making impactful work and not making any difference.”

It was then at the peak of his career, Droga quit his job and started his own agency, Droga5, and the first brand that paid him was GE as they resonated with Droga’s philosophy of the power of creativity.

Droga said, “When you are running a start-up agency, you tend to work with all kinds of clients.”

Remembering a client that approached him once, Droga said, “One of the biggest pornographic distributors approached us. I thought to myself that even if they would help me fund the agency, I just can’t do that. Before we were capable and worthy of saying no, we were saying no.”

The agency started growing big and when Droga thought that the agency was doing good, he got another life experience when a big drink company called them for a pitch. After presenting the pitch for more than an hour, he realised that all the while he was presenting the idea to an intern at the company.

“It reminded me that no matter how you think you are, who you are, it doesn’t count for anything,” said Droga.

He finished his talk by showing the award-winning campaign ‘The Last Da Vinci’ for Christie’s, in which Droga5 secretly placed a camera behind the painting to capture the real emotions of people watching it.

Droga ended that good advertising takes birth in experiences and moments that people go through.

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