Newbie art directors or account managers in Adland can always use a little sage advice. Thankfully, one of the wisest, David Droga, founder and creative chairman of one of the USA’s most successful young agencies, New York-based Droga5, has been sharing his views about the industry.
An advertising genius who’s been showered with awards during his career (he took his first creative director job in 1992 at the tender age of 22), Droga is also an outspoken critic of the industry. In a recent interview with the Toronto-based online news outlet, The Globe and Mail, he makes it clear he’s profoundly against formulaic, same-old-track advertising, which he considers lazy. That’s not to say he’s accusing individuals of being indolent, because he knows that most art directors with media jobs in Adland put in hours and hours over and above the call of duty. He’s talking about a mindset, not the number of hours worked.
“No industry has worked harder at being lazy. We’re doing the same thing over and over. And it gets harder and harder – the consumer doesn’t want to be interrupted. I mean, I’m in advertising and I fast forward through the commercials. There are whole industries built on technologies to avoid what our industry creates. If that isn’t a wake-up call that we need to be better, and smarter, and more tactical and timely, and more in sync with the consumer, I don’t know what is.”
The art of great storytelling
So, the thoughtful art director may be wondering, what does a smarter ad look like? Droga’s work for Prudential Insurance could well function as a case study. With a montage of photos and short films, it told intimate stories of people experiencing their first day of retirement – and won a cache of awards. Droga believes that consumers are more interested in great stories than they are in advertising: “We’re moved by emotions, and characters, and stories. We love that.”
For Droga, the principles of great advertising haven’t changed – creating connections, inspiring, educating and, of course, selling. But with changes in the technological reach of ads and the multiplying media, the rules for implementing those principles have changed. Today’s most successful ads, he says, “need less glitz and more strategic rigor in the work. That’s something that’s imperative.”