Droga, Esquire And An Advertising Industry Take-Down

drogaIts my guess that the profession of “advertising” is slightly more loved by Americans than “Congress.” It is therefore fascinating that David Droga, an advertising industry superstar (according to the people that make these pronouncements), has chosen to use his access to Esquire Magazine’s Best and Brightest series to tell the other people in his industry that they are lazy. L A Z Y. Cool! And, speaking for the advertising industry, thanks so very much.

I’ve read Droga’s “Where Advertising Will Go Next” a couple of times. I’ve been trying to assess the value of his spew. I can’t seem to find much in it beyond enjoying his art of self-promotion. Lets parse some of the key Droga thinking. Here are the article’s section headlines and my perspective.

The Strongest Story Wins

Droga says that today’s advertising “is more about interruption and intrusion than compelling narratives or a good laugh.” He says, advertising agencies don’t add value. If anything, agencies often take it away.” OK, I’m sorry, is there news here? Have I missed over 70 years of interruptive radio and TV advertising? Did viewers ever want leave their programming to go to a commercial break? And, speaking for the industry, thank you for alerting all of us to the idea that delivering a compelling story is a good idea.

Surprise, Advertising Works When Its Relevant.

Droga rails at today’s lack of creativity. He says, “The ingredients for great advertising haven’t changed since the Mad Men era: Brands win if their advertising is relevant and people like it.”

The fact is most advertising has never been great or even very good, or worse, effective. OK. I’ll give the industry a break and say that 50% is good. We also know that 50% of all advertising dollars are wasted. I’ve always agreed with that ratio and am not sure that the times have changed. So, David, where is the news here?

“No industry works harder at being lazy.”

Why is 50% of all advertising wasted? Droga tells us its because,

No industry works harder at being lazy.

Droga says he can tell the difference between the 50% of advertising that works and the 50% that doesn’t — and, guess what, his Droga5 advertising is in the top 50%! Obviously, Droga5 ain’t lazy. Cue the real reason for the article – its in my last sentence.

Back to the the lazy point. Are lots of ads ineffective because Creative Directors are lazy? No. Its because only 50% are really good at creating compelling, relevant advertising.

I’ve been doing advertising at multi-nationals, my own agency and as a client for 30 years. Creating less than optimal advertising has never been about being lazy; It’s always been about talent. In my experience, most of the people I’ve worked with in advertising have been hard working high-energy types. However, as is the case with all creative endeavors, some Creative Directors are talented and some aren’t. But, in my experience, talented or not, they’ve all worked hard. Lazy? No.

David Versus Goliath (Spoiler Alert: David Wins.)

Droga’s David vs. Goliath rant (essentially that big multi-national agencies suck) has been going on since the mergers of early 1980’s. Do we need to hear more about this internal industry battle? Some clients want and think they need big, others don’t. Are there geniuses at large agencies? Yes. Are there lazy losers? Yes. Ditto for many medium sized agencies.

Figure Out Mobile. Now.

Finally, Droga wants us to please figure out mobile marketing…. Sure thing Dave, coming right up.

Can you spell “duh?” Of course we need to figure out mobile, but we’ll at best get mobile 50% right (only got TV 50% right so far), so be cool. Unfortunately for the ad industry, mobile is about communications and applications and TV is about entertainment. Neither of these mediums have ever been primarily about “advertising.” By the way, has Droga5 figured out mobile? Has it?

PR Rocks

My ultimate takeaway from this Esquire piece? It’s a good “ad” for “Droga5. It will get them more attention from prospective clients (despite talking down to Esquire’s audience and buggering all other agencies) and it proves that Droga5’s PR works at getting ink.

But, did Droga present any new, big ideas? Really, any? No. Did he add to the perception that the advertising industry is lame? Yes.

Thanks, buddy.


By the way, I’d rather be Sam Kinison than Droga… Go check out a real good laugh.

While you are at it… Don’t miss any of my brilliant (LOL, but I mean it) thoughts on new business.

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