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“It's Still 100% Droga5. But Now with a Brazilian Flavour.”
London, UK
Renato Zandoná, CCO of Droga5 São Paulo, speaks to LBB’s Addison Capper about creatively heading up the agency’s newly launched and first ever office in Latin America

Droga5 announced at the end of February that it was launching Droga5 São Paulo, its first office in Latin America. 

The office is being led by a healthy mixture of top local creative talent and long-serving Droga5 stalwarts. Renato Zandoná is set to lead Droga5 São Paulo as its chief creative officer after serving as executive creative director at AKQA São Paulo. The leadership is rounded out by head of strategy Nick Maschmeyer, former brand strategy lead for some of Droga5 New York’s most award-winning work and brands, including The New York Times, JPMorgan Chase and Newcastle Brown Ale, and Stefane Rosa, who joined Droga5 New York in 2021 after spending over six years at DAVID, will assume the role of general manager.

Droga5 São Paulo has already added Netflix as one of its inaugural clients and is partnering with NGO Gerando Falcões, whose mission is to accelerate the impact power of favela leaders across deprived areas nationwide, as well as create cultural initiatives focused on those areas.

Intrigued to know more about the venture and where it is headed, LBB's Addison Capper chatted with CCO Renato.

LBB> What was the initial inspiration behind launching Droga5 into Sao Paulo?

Renato> The expansion of Droga5 is an opportunity to bring the best of Droga5 to São Paulo and pair it with the most creative, authentic, and local flavours that Brazil can offer, and ultimately create unique stories. We took what has made Droga5 work famous around the globe and brought it to Brazil through a local lens, emphasising the importance of craft and sharp brand strategy, and setting a new bar for expectations within the market.

Our office is not only built with the same DNA as Droga5 New York but we are founded by two Droga5 veterans, Stefane Rosa as general manager and Nick Maschmeyer as head of strategy, who represent the best of Droga5's creative culture. The strong connection with New York and shared leadership gives us the ability to tap into the global network of resources, people, tools, and ideas.

Also, this new office gives us the great opportunity to build an inclusive agency from the outset, ensuring we can faithfully represent the full spectrum of the human experience. We believe that the more diverse our workforce and skill sets, the more we can combat bias in the process, leading to richer work that is inherently more inclusive and, therefore, influential to more people.

LBB> The launch press release mentions "market and client demand for the agency’s signature creativity." Can you elaborate on that please?

Renato> We all know Droga5's creativity and craftsmanship very well and how its creative ambition has always pushed the industry forward and challenged the boundaries of creativity since day one.

But creativity itself is not the goal but in service of a larger purpose. And the power of Droga5's creativity is in how it's applied. It's by having it grounded in our brand, comms, and data strategy teams. That's what makes the creative work. And that's what gives us the freedom to dare, to go crazy.

It's the combination of creativity and the permission to take risks with solid brand thinking. And this combination has proven to work: Droga5 is not only one of the most creative agencies in the world; it's also one of the most effective (in 2019 Droga5 was awarded Independent Effectiveness Agency of the Year for the third year straight and the fourth time in five years).That's what brands are demanding now, not only one-off ideas. 

In the end, creativity needs to help build influential brands and move the needle on business goals. And that's what Droga5 is bringing to the market through a local lens.

LBB> Droga5 is one of the most creatively recognised agency brands on the planet. What are your thoughts on that as CCO of a brand new office for the agency?

Renato> I'm excited and honoured! I know the legacy and reputation, and I see now the commitment everyone has to carry it through the years. It's not luck; it's hard work and collaboration. 

Also, I think it's a big responsibility to bring Droga5 to our market and industry. We're expected to be the best in everything we do, not only in the creative work. The way we work and position ourselves, who we hire, how we treat people, just to name a few. And that's great because it makes us reimagine the traditional creative agency model and push the industry forward to a better future. As CCO, I can see the unique opportunity we have to impact the world through creativity, which is super exciting.

LBB> Overall, what is your creative vision for Droga5 Sao Paulo?

Renato> The vision is to make Droga5 São Paulo the best workplace for creatives, a place where they can feel empowered and have the best tools and support to be their best selves.

And everything inside the agency should be in the right place to make it possible. We should foster and champion an inclusive and highly creative work environment. We should have the best briefs on the table and work on things we believe in. The process should be in the service of making ideas better. We should aim to be the most creative agency. We should promote people. We should appreciate and accept failure. We should trust each other. We should be flexible. We should give feedback and recognition. We should have fun.

If you can make this vision work, you'll attract the best talents, and they will stay because they will be part of something bigger. And with that in place, becoming the most creative agency in the world is just a consequence.

LBB> How important is it for it to be distinctly Droga5 but also its own, unique entity in Brazil?

Renato> We're very fortunate we are not starting from scratch, but bringing the best of Droga5 to São Paulo. And that was always the plan. I care very much about Droga5's legacy and I've been learning a lot in the last six months with Nick and Stefane, and the teams from New York, London and Tokyo. It's crazy how everyone here cares about the work and is invested in bringing the best out of each other.

The point is, what really connects the audience to an idea is context. People care when things are relevant to them. And relevance has everything to do with empathising with the people you're talking to, speaking their language, also understanding people's needs, dreams and desires, and knowing what problems they have that you can solve better than anyone else in a fresh way.

So yeah, it's still 100% Droga5. But now with a Brazilian flavour. And I have no idea how it will taste, but I'm sure it's going to be great and I'm very excited to see what the future holds for us.

LBB> In your eyes, what can Droga5 bring to the Brazilian market that doesn't already exist there?

Renato> When you think of Brazil, you think of creativity. Brazil is one of the most creative, vibrant, expressive, hardworking, dedicated cultures and markets in the world. Brazil bleeds creativity in all its forms. 

So why another creative agency, right?

We think the market hasn't leveraged the full potential of all that creativity. Short-term thinking, outdated systems, consumer behaviours evolving faster than the industry can adapt, and even incentives out of sync with ambition are letting effectiveness be left to chance.

So this gap gives us the opportunity to create influence for brands and bring the best of Droga5 to Brazil, which is world-class creativity, reinforced by a combination of leading brand and engagement strategy, as well as Accenture Interactive’s full suite of capabilities.

LBB> What clients have you launched with and what are your goals for them?

Renato> Right now, we're working with Netflix and having exciting conversations with other potential clients in Brazil, and in partnership with other Droga5 offices. The ambition is to create innovative and culturally relevant work at scale for Brazil, Latam, and beyond as we foster trust, transparency, and positive working styles with clients in long-term relationships.

LBB> In an ideal world, what does the rest of 2022 hold for you and the agency?

Renato> We're focusing on people in 2022 and the following years. 

First, finding our people, building a team of diverse perspectives and skillsets, making them feel included, and helping them do the best work of their lives.

Second, finding the right people on the client-side who share our vision and creative ambition and establishing positive work practice and a true partnership.

I believe that everything falls into place once we have the right people on both sides.

LBB> Any parting thoughts?

Renato> Follow us on Instagram (@droga5sp) for future work and maybe a few TikTok dance moves.

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