David Angelo launched the David&Goliath agency in 1999, he and his agency have had enormous success by “thinking like David,” being nimble, resourceful, creative and brave – and fiercely independent. I’d also add “slyly funny” to that list of descriptors. David&Goliath’s Super Bowl spot for the Kia Sorento poked fun at over-the-top Super Bowl ads by having former James Bond star Pierce Brosnan dodge owls and a moose on a snowy mountain road. AdWeek’s Tim Nudd listed it among his five favorite ads of Super Bowl XLIX. David&Goliath’s spot for last year’s Super Bowl – which featured Laurence Fishburne in his role as Morpheus from the Matrix singing Pucini in the back of a Kia K 900 – created a similar buzz.
In addition to doing standout work, a successful independent agency needs to maintain a diverse client base. In addition to Kia Motors, David&Goliath works with Vizio Electronics, the California State Lottery, Universal Studios, and in the past several months has been added to the agency roster for Jack in the Box and Coca-Cola’s Zico Coconut Water brand.
The Way I See It
- For all the mergers and acquisitions going on in the ad industry, the role of strong creatively focused independents is very much in demand. As a recent AdWeek article by Janet Stilson pointed out, the top 5 conglomerates grew by 1.9 percent in 2012, while the industry as a whole grew by 9.4 percent.
- One factor that may be driving the success of the independents is a growing inclination among certain clients to not put all their advertising eggs in one basket. For instance, when Jack in the Box hired David&Goliath, their stated goal was to complement the work being done by Secret Weapon, which has served Jack for more than 20 years. Sometimes it’s good to have competing creative brains at the table.
The Way the Industry Sees It
I sat down with David Angelo, Founder and Chairman of David&Goliath, to talk about his agency and the benefits of staying independent.
What inspired you to start David&Goliath? Talk to me a little about the firm.
In order to give you a greater sense of who we are, and why we’re called David&Goliath, I need to start from the beginning. It all goes back to me. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always believed that challenges are the norm, and it’s all about how you handle them. I see them less as challenges per se and more as opportunities to reveal one’s potential. That’s been a philosophy that I’ve had, since I was a kid, and has been a driving force throughout my entire life and career. It’s this belief that inspired me to create David&Goliath – an agency brand whose sole mission is to inspire people and brands to overcome their goliaths and achieve greatness. That’s the birth of it, and why it works, and why I’m able to foster a culture – because it comes from the truth, it comes from who I am and what my belief systems are all about. The key is to find other likeminded individuals and brands who believe that there’s nothing more powerful than being true to who you are. And it all begins with the notion of self-awareness and having the courage to live your truth.
How do you hold on to that original spirit?
Inside of all us is a spirit that believes in infinite possibilities. It’s that voice that tells us that no goal is too big or too daunting. At David&Goliath, we sum it in up in one word: Brave. Brave is in all of us. It gives us permission to step outside of your comfort zone knowing you’ll be better off for it. This is our philosophy and serves as a filter for everything we do. From the type of creative briefs that we write, to the work, to how we inspire our people our to live Brave beyond the walls of our agency. Because in order to be a true authentic brand, you have to live it across the board. And in order to inspire your brand partners to live their brand, you have to do the same.
What does bravery for a brand mean?
There’s been a lot of discussion recently in the ad trades about being brave in regards to the work. And while we applaud anyone who aspires to do brave work, we believe it goes beyond just the work. For us, Brave isn’t about forcing a client to buy ideas based on one’s own creative agenda. It’s about inspiring them to embrace what’s true about their brand and giving them permission to be relevant in a world that is craving authenticity. And as we all know, social media will be the first to expose a brand that’s being less than authentic. They will also be the first to reward the brands who are living their truth. From the type of products you create, to how you market them, to how transparent you are, the brands that are Brave enough to live their authentic purpose will be the ones that achieve greatness both short and long term. And as we say here at David&Goliath: fortune favors the Brave.
Do you find that technology has made advertising easier or more difficult? Or, it’s irrelevant to you?
Technology has absolutely without a doubt made advertising more accessible, as it’s a tool to that helps us reach people in ways we never thought were possible. And while it continues to grow at an exponential rate, it’s also over saturating the market with a bombardment of content and brands screaming at them for attention. Hence the need for breakthrough creative that doesn’t talk at the consumer, but allows for an authentic two way conversation. Bill Bernbach was right when he said that there’s going to be so many different ways of reaching people, but at the end of the day it’s going to come down to the idea, and how you’re able to connect with them in a more meaningful way. The fact that he said this 50+ years ago is further proof that a great idea can stand the test of time.
What’s the coolest thing in your office?
I have many things in my office that I consider cool, but what resonates with me mostly actually sits outside my office on what we call the “Wall of Goliaths.” It’s a collection of 180+ picture frames showcasing our employees biggest fears. This initiative is meant serve as a reminder of what they need to overcome in order to achieve their own personal greatness. As an agency, we support them both emotionally and financially to help them overcome their Goliath. When they do, we celebrate the moment, then ask them to frame another Goliath. Because when you overcome your Goliath, it gives you the freedom to be Brave in business and in life.