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Droga5, famed ad agency for The New York Times and Airbnb, is hiring across the board — its founder told us how to land a job there

  • Accenture-owned ad agency Droga5 is hiring across departments as ad spending recovers from the pandemic.
  • Salaries include $100,000 for a senior designer and $310,000 for a group creative director.
  • Founder David Droga said he looks for candidates with strong points of view who aren’t embarrassed to work in advertising.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Founded in 2006, Droga5 has grown from a small, independent ad agency to one of the industry’s most acclaimed by making award-winning ads like The New York Times’ “The Truth Is Worth It.” Accenture Interactive acquired it in 2019 for around $500 million. 

Droga5, with just over 650 people in New York and London, frequently ranks alongside Wieden + Kennedy in industry surveys as a top destination for talent. Would-be employees have tried all kinds of stunts to get hired, from standing outside the office holding signs for three days straight to get David Droga’s attention to mailing gifts directly to the founder and chairman.

And after cutting staff in the pandemic, Droga5 is currently hiring across all departments after winning new business from brands like Airbnb, Lululemon, and Molson Coors.

Droga5 pays competitively and relies on its reputation and internal recruiters to hire at a time when people are quitting agencies or going freelance in droves.

Below are sample 2021 salaries for various roles at the agency, according to The US Department of Labor’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification:

  • Senior designer: $100,000
  • Account supervisor: $105,000
  • Associate creative director: $200,000
  • Creative director: $210,000
  • Group creative director: $310,000
  • Chief knowledge officer: $400,000

David Droga said his company has no “special sauce” when choosing new employees but goes out of its way to look beyond the biggest ad agencies and avoid the “merry-go-round [where] everyone ends up hiring the same people.”

Droga, who still weighs in on top-level hires, said he’s more interested in candidates with a strong point of view than an encyclopedic knowledge of advertising.

“I’m not embarrassed to say I’m in advertising; some people pretend they’re not,” he said. “If [applicants] are interested in opening the aperture of what advertising can be and what it can mean, then they’re the right kind of person for Droga5. I don’t judge by the depth of the portfolios.”

Understanding the creative process is key to getting any job at Droga5 since all teams ultimately collaborate on the final product, though, chief media officer Colleen Leddy said.

And it’s important applicants can immediately name and discuss their favorite recent ad campaigns by Droga5 and top competitors like Wieden, Mother and 72andSunny, said executive group business director Giovanni Villamar.

Group creative director Kevin Brady, who interviews most candidates for the creative department, said he’s interested in hearing about their hobbies and passions for everything from abstract expressionism to old-school hip-hop.

To expand its hiring pool, the agency launched D5in10, a program for young people who haven’t studied or worked in advertising, in 2017. Graduates are not guaranteed jobs, but they have been hired by Droga5 and other agencies, global head of diversity and inclusion Tiffany Edwards said.

Like other agencies, Droga5 is putting a greater emphasis on diversity in hiring. Droga5 also frequently finds hires in groups like Adcolor that focus on underrepresented communuties and now requires 50% of open roles to be filled by women and 30% by candidates of color, Edwards said. Droga5 recently published data showing its 2020 hires were 49% white, 19% Black, 13% Asian, and 12% Hispanic.

As the pandemic recedes, Droga said employees will probably never be expected back in the office five days a week. But Droga5 values in-person collaboration more than some agencies.

“The last 16 months have been very validating, seeing our culture and work still flourish when we all work remotely,” Droga said. “That doesn’t mean I like it. Creativity comes from ricochet conversations, like people saying something that may inspire a great [idea] or overhearing conversations that maybe they shouldn’t hear. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”

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