CTAM Live: Droga Pitches Ad Connections


BOSTON--Ad man David Droga made a pitch to cable marketers Monday: tell stories that get an emotional response, that have their own momentum and that people who hear them want to participate in and act on.

Showing off some of agency Droga5's work – including Sarah Silverman's video encouraging people to make "the great schlep" to their grandparents in Florida and get them to vote early for Obama – the Aussie, known for winning more creative awards at the Cannes international ad festival than any other individual, said people love brands and "want to have two-way conversations with brands."

Start with the message, and then figure out the best way to tell the story in a way that engages people, Droga said during Monday’s opening general at CTAM Summit ’08.

New York-based Droga5's first project, he said, was for urban fashion designer Marc Ecko: a video that seemed to show the former graffiti artist sneaking into a military base and spraypainting "Still Free" onto the president's plane, Air Force One. The 2006 hoax was picked up widely on TV newscasts (as a video Drago showed demonstrated) and even prompted the Air Force to check on the real plane, which was unharmed.

Ecko operates in a category where "street credibility" is more important than quality of stitching, Droga said, so the aim was to make a video compelling enough to get passed around among potential customers and reported in the media.

"What's interesting when you do something like that is, everyone immediately assumes you're saying the future is about viral," Droga said. "Not at all. The future is not about viral, the future is not about hoaxes. The future for advertising people is to find the appropriate conversation to have and then find the appropriate medium. Instead of just producing these one-dimensional stories, which is what we're famous for doing."

"Our starting point is -- what do we want people to feel after they see our work and they connect with our work, as opposed to tell them what to think. That day has gone.

"We as an industry are going through a massive transition," the former Publicis Network chief creative officer continued. "Everyone's nervous in our industry. But it's also an incredibly exciting time for creative agencies and strategic agencies. And, as with any industry, it's still going to come down to good, bad, crap. Good advertising will still connect, and bad advertising will still look [bad] and crappy advertising will still offend."

Droga said he loves TV and that TV advertising, when done well, has more impact than anything else. The 30-second commercial is not dead or dying, he said after a question came in from Twitter.com. "I think the bad 30-second spot is dead."

"I'm in the industry and I still. . . record most of my programs and I still fast-forward through the advertising. Sometimes," Droga said. "And that's a terrible thing to admit. But at the same time it's quite liberating. Because it makes me think the onus is back on agencies and back on cable networks to actually forge a deeper relationship, where their work is not just one dimensional. It's a three-dimensional canvas, and it's got to be a conversation that connects."

For more coverage of CTAM Summit '08, click here