- Accenture named David Droga as CEO and creative chairman of its marketing services division Accenture Interactive, according to an announcement. He steps into the role on Sept. 1 and will report to Accenture chief Julie Sweet, as well as join the company's Global Management Committee.
- Droga takes the reins from Brian Whipple, who is retiring. Whipple led Interactive over the past decade, turning the unit into a formidable industry player and overseeing dozens of acquisitions in fields ranging from automated production and ad tech to digital commerce.
- Droga last served as chairman of Droga5. The agency, which he founded, was acquired by Accenture in 2019 in the management consultancy's most significant bet to date on the power of creative know-how.
Accenture is elevating an ad executive renowned for his creative expertise to lead Interactive, which has grown into a $10 billion business with blue-chip brand clients around the world. The unit is often cited as the prime example of how management consultancies are encroaching on the turf of traditional ad holding groups, touting specialties in digital technology and transformation services that traditional Madison Avenue players have been sluggish to adopt.
Under Whipple's stewardship, Interactive rounded out its offering through a wild run of acquisitions of agencies large and small. Creativity is one area where advertising's old guard has historically held the advantage, which is why the pricey Droga5 deal two years ago appeared to be a major coup. Droga5 is heavily venerated — it won agency of the decade accolades from both Adweek and Ad Age— and Droga himself has cultivated a reputation as a savvy thinker, standing as the most-awarded creative person at Cannes Lions to date.
His firm's success in developing decorated marketing work has sometimes helped downplay its financial troubles. In the months leading up to the Accenture acquisition, Droga5 went through several rounds of layoffs. Those issues resurfaced as the coronavirus pandemic put new pressures on the agency category in 2020, including steep client pullbacks. Droga5 cut about 7% of its U.S. staff last September.
But the pandemic also broadly changed brands' needs, with stronger demand for help in navigating complicated channels like e-commerce and data-driven marketing. At the helm of Accenture Interactive, Droga seeks to enliven accelerated tech-driven mandates as marketing spending recovers at a faster rate, particularly in digital.
"As the world seeks to build back better, Interactive will continue to play a critical role in creating 360-degree value for our clients," Droga said in a press statement. "I look forward to putting further emphasis on our creative excellence, coupling it with our world-class ingenuity and proven expertise in Interactive and experiences."
A leadership switch-up at Interactive also comes as agency competitors are performing well despite ongoing pandemic uncertainty. The four largest ad holding groups reported strong organic revenue growth, a key measure of health, in the second quarter, with some outpacing their gains over the comparable period in 2019. Fresh tailwinds suggest that agencies' bets on consultative and technology adjacent services are paying off and starting to close the gap in areas where the category previously lagged.