One of the most important sessions on the second day of Cannes Lions Festival 2019 was the interview of David Droga, Founder and Creative Chairman of Droga5, and Brian Whipple, CEO Accenture Interactive, with Suzanne Vranica, Advertising Editor of the Wall Street Journal.
It was for the first time Droga and Whipple came together on the world’s biggest creative platform after Accenture Interactive acquired the world’s biggest creative boutique, Droga5, in April this year. The session was rightly named ‘When the Worlds Collide: The evolution of creativity’ as Vranica posed some tough questions about the acquisition.
Vranica started off by asking Whipple that he had said in the past of not having any interest in hiring ‘Mad Men’s Don Draper’ and now he was sitting beside one. Whipple answered, “Accenture Interactive always wanted to scale brand creativity as standalone capability of the agency and David and his team brought to the table what we wanted. We are world class at bringing stories to life and making them a reality through technologies. They have phenomenal ideas and we have the abilities to bring those ideas to life. Along with shared vision and great chemistry, we decided to do this together. But it took a while because as David said it was a personal decision. It took a little longer but here we are.”
Droga said he isn’t afraid of failures and if he has a chance of taking the agency a notch hire, he would do it. He said that the acquisition will help Droga5 to stay relevant as brands focus on the entire consumer relationship. ‘I didn’t build Droga5 to sell but to build it as a platform to do great things,” he said.
Droga went on saying, “It was a very personal and emotional decision. It was hard but not because I was doing the wrong thing. It was one of those things where we know that we have to do it and hence there was a very honest conversation. It was emotional because it is something that I built from the ground up and I did not have a boss or a partner for all these 12 years and now I have to see beyond that as I’m a part of something bigger and collective. It was hard because it was emotional. It was not hard because I was scared.”
Vranica asked Whipple why Accenture actually wanted to get into the creative space. He answered that the company’s fundamental philosophy is that the brands like Amazon, Uber, Airbnb are not built just on advertising, they are built on human touchpoints and consumer experiences. They are known for building consumer experiences. “We do need technology to build experiences along with creativity to build those experiences,” he said.
Droga seconded that for creativity to work, consumer experience is equally important to make sure it is effective all the way through. He said, “This is a bit dismissive but I don’t want to be the best interior decorator in the business if the house is going to fall down. It all has to work."
Vranica pointed out that the integration of technology and creative teams is the biggest challenge that the creative industry is facing these days due to cultural differences at both the ends. She asked Whipple how he is dealing with this challenge after the acquisition as both Droga5 and Accenture Interactive have different cultures. Whipple said, “Imagine a collaborative environment at one of our studios, where we have teams of media strategists, art directors, copywriters and brand planners with technologists; it is the best platter. The people that we recruit don’t see the difference between technology and creativity.”
They talked about the future of the advertising industry. Droga said that the future is being relevant all the time. “We’ll be getting more opportunities from our clients if we remain relevant to them. If I’m not able to influence more part of the clients’ business, then as a creative agency I’m less relevant to them. Accenture Interactive’s skill sets, growth and culture speak for itself. And I felt that there was great symmetry and great ambition.”
Whipple then went on sharing Accenture Interactive’s future plans. He said they are going to build real products, making a difference in the consumers’ world and make better experiences for the consumers. He even said that even acquiring any holding company in the future is not on their strategic roadmap as of now.
He said, “We are not competing with the world’s biggest holding companies or creative agencies. They are great creative leaders. We are at an intersection of advertising and digital media space.”
Giving an example, Whipple said that their job is not to create campaigns for a retail store if they have to work for, but to create the entire retail experience for the consumers and create products and services that can help brands to reach the consumer touchpoints.