Obama agency loses its Kiwi co-founder

Andrew 'Rocky' Stone leaves to “spend time with his family”.

Droga5, the advertising agency that helped propel US President Barack Obama to the White House, has lost of one of its New Zealand founders.

Andrew “Rocky” Stone, who co-founded the New Zealand offshoot of the independent Manhattan-based agency in 2010, left the company last week to “spend time with his family”.

“Yes, Andrew is leaving to spend time with his family and work on projects,” fellow co-founder Mike O’Sullivan told NBR ONLINE today.

Mr O’Sullivan, Droga’s "ideas partner", says the company will not be putting out a media release about the departure of its "business partner" but confirmed it was permanent.

“Andrew will be consulting with us on projects as need be, but there aren’t any at the moment. Andrew had been getting up at 4am. He said he had been getting tired of it,” Mr O’Sullivan says.

Mr Stone, who co-founded Droga5’s New Zealand office with Mr O’Sullivan and "digital partner" Jose Alomajan, still maintains a share in the business.

Droga5 NZ is reportedly 60% owned by global founder David Droga and the remainder by Messrs Stone and O’Sullivan. No comment was made on these shareholdings.

“We won’t be discussing that. Andrew’s still engaged with us, working on stuff.” The departure had been planned for two months.

“It’s business as usual. We will miss him. He gets to do lots of fishing while we are very busy. He just wanted to spend time with family and chill out for a while,” Mr O’Sullivan says.

Droga5 has yet to decide the future structure of its business, but Mr O’Sullivan says discussions are under way, with decisions expected shortly.

Mr Stone’s departure adds to troubles the agency has suffered recently.

These include the loss of its anchor client, ASB Bank, to Saatchi & Saatchi in April. ASB was Droga5’s first client, which it gained from TBWA when the company was first launched.

Droga5 NZ also recently suffered the loss of joint creative directors Corey Chalmers and Guy Roberts to Saatchi & Saatchi. They were replaced in February by Anomoly London creative director Nathan Cooper.

The Auckland office is Droga5’s third global office, following on from Sydney and Manhattan.

Mr Stone is a former Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand CEO, who with Mr O’Sullivan are praised within the industry for transforming the agency into a major award winner. They left in December 2009.

The formation of the Droga5 New Zealand office came after Droga5’s rapid growth in Sydney after its launch in 2008. It also meant New Zealand clients had access to expertise from Droga5’s Manhattan headquarters.

Droga5 globally has clients which include Prudential, Puma, Kraft Foods, the Coca-Cola Company, Qantas, Newcastle Brown Ale, and has launched social projects for Unicef and the 2008 Obama Campaign.

Mr Stone could not be contacted today.

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