06/18/2013 06:34 pm ET Updated Aug 18, 2013

How David Droga Creates Advertising That Matters

The man behind Droga5 talks about how he uses the ad world to create markets for important ideas (and to sell stuff, too).

Sometimes the biggest ideas can be the simplest, the smallest and most obvious. For David Droga, founder and creative chairman of Droga5, the notion of give and take turned out to be a game-changer for his award-winning advertising agency. Launched in 2007, the UNICEF Tap Project, which raises awareness and funds for clean water projects, asked diners "when you take water, give water."

This ongoing collaboration was conceived, not as a disposable annual advertising program, but as a simple, scalable way to give in flexible increments, from $1 for regular tap water in restaurants to $5 for celebrity tap water. It underlined the value of the tap water taken for granted everyday. By changing customer's mindsets, the project has raised nearly $3 million and benefited from pro bono work by agencies in 23 markets.

At the core of Droga5's mission is impact: what they call creativity with a purpose. Droga counts himself fortunate to be amongst the first generation of business leaders who don't have to choose between building a robust business with global reach and giving back to society. For all the success Droga5 is having, the goal is not simply growth. Droga says that the company focuses on the projects they take on, making sure that the mission and actions of the companies align with those of the agency. They have earned a reputation as an innovator of sustainable ideas built around social good. "We can be problem solvers so that it's more than just about creating ads," he says. "We're very much an advertising agency, but it's not about creating ads as we know it."

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