Hollywood talent agency WME buys into Droga5 – so can Aussie Dave take on WPP et al?

Hotshot New York and Sydney agency Droga5 (and, recently, London) announced a few weeks ago that it was going to set up an international network.

Which is all fine and good: but where’s the money coming from?

In an ad world increasingly dominated by megaliths like WPP, Omnicom and Publicis Groupe it’s hard for even the best creative agencies to make it on their own.

Wieden+Kennedy is still keeping the indie flag flying, so is Iris in its funny old way. BBH recently sold out to Publicis Groupe for quite complicated reasons, two of which were the desires of Sirs Bogle and Hegarty to take things a bit easier.

Which leaves: Droga5; Dave Droga’s (left) construction which includes a thriving operation in New York, one in Sydney (Dave’s an Aussie) and a new office in London.

But if you’re going to be big and independent of the huge agency networks you need to get money from somewhere else. Digi networks like AKQA (recently sold to WPP) and LBi (sold to Publicis Groupe) grew with venture capital money but they must always have known (or should have) that, sooner or later, their backers would sell to the highest bidder.

Who would turn out to be WPP or PG.

Anyway, Dave Droga (or David as he likes to be known – but he’s a Dave isn’t he?) has struck a deal with heavyweight Hollywood talent agency William Morris Endeavor, selling the casting couch boys a minority stake (reportedly 49 per cent, which sounds a bit heavy). Which, presumably, he and his partner Andrew Essex think will support the agency’s global expansion. Sooner or later it’s going to need a presence in the Far East, mainland Europe and the West Coast.

WME is partly owned by US venture fund Silver Lake Partners, which is, presumably, providing the dosh.

Anyway, it all sounds good and let’s hope that Droga5 does stay independent (mostly) and can sustain a global network, well away from the maws of WPP, Omnicom etc.

Update

Adweek says William Morris Endeavor paid $115m for 49 per cent of Droga5 while the New York Times thinks it’s quite a bit more than that.. Well they deserve it. Throw a few more raw prawns on the barbie!

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advertising bbh David Droga droga5 Hollywood lbi omnicom WPP

About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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