Can Bill Scott be the one to turn around Droga5 London?

The former Campaign deputy editor Jeremy Lee gives us the inside track on the stories that have got the ad industry talking.

New Droga5 London chief exec Bill Scott

After a nine-month interregnum at Droga5 London, the agency’s founder David Droga is pinning his hopes on Bill Scott providing the rocket fuel that the shop is so desperately crying out for.

Droga5’s London outpost has been more notable for the frequency of which its revolving door spins on its axis than for making much of an impression on the UK advertising market. Having been open for just over two years, none of its original founders remain and any evidence of breakthrough creative work or new business excitement remains as elusive now as when it launched.

Given this, the personable and capable Scott would appear to have his work cut out taking over an agency that is without an executive creative director and whose existing management team looks to be unproven, at kindest, or at worst second-tier. He’ll need to draw on all of his reserves of energy and focus to get the agency to finally move off its blocks – let alone reach anything like parity with its successful and creatively acclaimed US parent.

His decision to walk away from Grey London, whose star has been in the ascendancy, to take such a risk would seem to suggest that the financial package on offer was too good to turn down. Let’s hope he doesn’t share the same experience as the talented Thiago de Moraes, who was similarly seduced only to find out that the agency was not what he thought it to be and quickly scuttled back to his former berth at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO.

Scott’s departure also comes shortly after that of the Grey chief executive Chris Hirst, who can be given a great deal of the credit for turning around the agency so that the word eponymous is no longer the epithet of choice to describe its output. Indeed, Grey is now one of the most creatively awarded shops in London and the jewel in the WPP crown – who’d have thought that just four years go?

Whether Hirst walked to the unsexy Havas Creative Group because he was up for the challenge and fired-up at the prospect of getting his hands dirty again, or because – as rumour has it – he didn’t know that his colleague Nils Leonard was going to be given the chairman role, is not known. But either way Grey is looking a little more exposed now that two of its key talent have left, while the agency looks increasingly dependent on Leonard’s swagger – something he at least is likely to be pleased about.

But back to Droga5. When Scott’s predecessor Kevin Dundas was given the order of the boot back in October, Droga said that the changes were needed as he wanted “to build the most influential creative agency in the world”. Given that Droga5 probably isn’t even the most creative agency on Howick Place, it’s quite feasible that Scott will have to do some reshaping of his own – a not impossible task as Camilla Harrisson has shown over at Anomaly, which suffered from a similar spluttering start.

While he’s one of advertising’s good guys, we’ll wait to see if he’s got the ruthlessness that may be needed to finally fulfil Droga’s ambition.

Follow Jeremy Lee on Twitter @jezzalee

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