Cannes 2010: Chuck Porter and David Droga on how to build a successful agency

By Biprorshee Das , afaqs!, Cannes | In Advertising
Last updated : June 28, 2010
Crispin Porter + Bogusky's Chuck Porter and Droga5's David Droga spoke of how to start an agency; and the key issues to focus on while building it

Starting an independent agency might not be as hard as building it into a successful one. What does it take to achieve such success?

Chuck Porter, chief strategist, MDC Partners and co-chairman, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, and David Droga, founder and creative chairman, Droga5 shared their thoughts in a seminar on the sixth day of the International Advertising Festival. They spoke about what to keep in mind in founding and building an agency.
Porter spoke of the right hiring policy, which would ensure that the best people are brought on- board. He said that he looked for brains, talent, passion, curiosity and experience, in that order, while hiring.

He added that there was little sense in having an "agency philosophy" -- it did not matter to anyone, unless the philosophy is unique. "Do work that makes people buy stuff. That is a cool philosophy. Unless it is a unique proposition, forget the philosophy. Just work," he said.

He said that the mission statement of his agency is to produce the most talked-about and written-about advertising in the world.

Porter said that is essential to "cheat". By that, he quickly clarified, he did not mean being dishonest, but stretching the rules and doing what others are not.

"The closer you get to the product, the better use you are to the client," he said, as he stressed on the need to "swim upstream".

He spoke of the shifting trends in people's communication behaviour, as he went back in history to point out that people once communicated by not just listening, but also participating. However, with the advent of radio and then television, people became mere listeners.

Drawing his presentation to a close, he emphasised that it was also important to not downplay the significant role of luck.

Porter was followed by Droga, one of the most awarded creative professionals in the industry, who left his last agency, Saatchi & Saatchi at the peak of his career to start his own -- Droga5.

He began by saying that the question should not be how, but why one would want to start an agency.

Talking about his own reasons, he said that while it was exciting to travel and meet different people around the world; at the end of the day, he realised that he was building someone else's agency and business.

"We are restless by nature and we are constantly searching for the next thing. Walk out when all logic still says that you should stay," Droga said.
He said that his mission statement, though ambitious, was to try and build the most influential creative company in the world.

"To achieve that goal, you have to make things happen, be legitimate, work with the best clients. Your work has to work. If we are not out to become the best at what we do, then what is the point?" he remarked.

"By starting an agency, I have more chances of doing something right, more chances to work with the people I want to be inspired by," he added.

Droga, like Porter, also spoke of his hiring policy, which is to try and hire "like-minded, generous people" who would be more than willing to share creativity and values. At the same time, he pointed out that it should not be the case that only like-minded people are hired. One should be open to challenges, by being surrounded by people from various disciplines and interests.

"You have to make your work personal. To start an agency, just be true to yourself and you will be successful. Do not chase the money. It will come to you. Do the work. Do what you are proud of. Do what is sincere," he advised.

First Published : June 28, 2010

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