Following on from some big changes at Droga5 recently, which said goodbye to its foundation client ASB and one of its founding partners Andrew Stone, creative partner Mike O’Sullivan has announced the departure of the brand from the New Zealand market after two and a bit years and the arrival of The Collective, a new creative venture with a central hub of five and a network of contractors to call upon.
"I’ve always wanted to try this model," says O'Sullivan, who, after Stone's departure, has spent the past few months looking at the finances and trying to create a more suitable set-up for today's environment. "A lot of the people we’ll be working with have a great record at other agencies. This is our chance to try something bold and new. It might even be fun."
As evidenced by its recent work for Telecom, he says much of the New Zealand market is now project-based rather than fee-based, which means "you're really busy one moment and you're not the next". And when you've got a beast to feed, that just doesn't compute.
"Our model will reflect that. There are a lot of experienced, talented people out there who want to work this way," he says, and in lots of different disciplines as well. "The Collective can be about working with one person or many. It all depends on the task. And it will partner with clients like Qantas, AA Travel, Phoenix, and Telecom, and we will work with agencies as well."
Former Droga5 digital partner, Jose Alomajan is part of the new gang and will also provide digital consultancy for other agencies and clients. While the core is down to five, with James Polhill also involved, he says they'll work with up to ten others, some of whom he says are very proven and experienced people in the industry. But in an effort to keep things discreet, he can't talk about who they are or whether Stone is also involved with this venture.
"Before making this decision I talked with a lot of people, some happy people doing it the right way and some unhappy people who were stuck, whether in big, medium or small agencies. Clients are looking for a solution from everywhere so the idea of a strong relationship with one agency is changing ... I wouldn't for one minute want to go out there and say 'we've cracked the new model' because it's not brain surgery, it's just the way business is going."
He admits that in hindsight this is the kind of agency that should have been implemented when Droga5 was set up, but it was a powerful brand to launch with and having ASB on the books as one of its first clients meant it needed to be able to resource that.
While very locally focused, The Collective will have an affiliation with World Wide Mind in Los Angeles, which operates a similar model and is run by one of Droga5's founders Ben Nott.
"Nott is a creative force of nature and his company World Wide Mind performs with this vision and structure."
While the Droga5 name is no more, there is still a connection and The Collective will also partner on a selective basis with Droga5 Sydney.
"Using The Collective in Auckland will allow us to provide the maximum amount of client satisfaction to Qantas,” said David Droga, who O'Sullivan says is cool with the change.
Here’s The Collective website landing page copy:
Welcome to The Collective
We’re a group of people experienced in all forms of ideation for business.
We’re grownups with youthful curiosity.
Collectively we’ve run large communication agencies, digital companies, and worked in, and with some of New Zealand’s most successful businesses
We got together because we believe there’s a better more effective way to work.
And we want to work with clients who want to do something new.
It can be little project or something big because with a collective of people we can be the size you need.
It’s up to you.