For Rob Trostle, executive design director of Droga5—the advertising agency founded by David Droga in 2006 in New York—design is more than something practiced by like-minded creatives. “The challenge we’re taking on here is making design a mainstream thing,” he says.“We want it to be something that everyone in this country loves, understands, and relates to. We want to take our knowledge and spread it to the widest audience possible.”
And how is the company of almost 600 employees, occupying nearly 208,000 square feet in the heart of Wall Street’s Financial District, spreading the gospel of design to all people? Trostle, who’s been with Droga5 for a little over a year, says the key is to “influence culture from a design point of view.” By steadily growing a design practice within an agency already reputed as an industry heavyweight, with access to incredibly diverse clients, he and the design team are proving that design is indeed a powerful tool, when “integrated in a thoughtful and meaningful way.”
Collaborating with the agency’s wide-reaching and widely recognized client base—which ranges from Air Wick and Google to Under Armour—is especially gratifying to Trostle. “As designers, we rarely have the chance to touch such a large audience. And the crazy range of clients also helps us achieve our goals, to push on every aspect of culture.”
One of his favorite projects to date involves helping Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson transition from professional wrestler, to Hollywood star, to lifestyle brand. In conjunction with a partnership with the sportswear brand Under Armour, Droga5 launched Project Rock this past March, including bags—which have already sold out on the website—and an app called The Rock Clock. Trostle and his team “developed a visual language for him that felt true to who he is.”
The Rock Clock, a motivational alarm clock, is especially noteworthy for its ability to engage the user in a highly personal, and oftentimes amusing, way. For example, the user can select to wake up at 5 a.m., or “Rock Time,” when Johnson himself arises. The ringtones are just as motivational and funny—imagine waking up to the voice of Johnson sweetly singing, or to the sound of a crowd chanting “get up.” In addition, the user can also receive motivational videos based on a pre-determined goal (like “gain five pounds of muscle” or “earn that promotion”).
Like the Project Rock bags, The Rock Clock was an instant hit. It’s not something typically within the scope of traditional design firms, but this is exactly where Droga5’s size and capabilities really shine. “We have a very flexible space where we can do an entire photo shoot, print a book, and build any sort of digital product,” explains Trostle.
To help employees feel connected to each other,and to Droga5 as a whole—no matter the project or floor they’re working on—a communal dinner is offered every evening at 8 p.m. The idea is to have everyone “cross-pollenate, build community, and develop a sense of warmth,” says Trostle. “It’s also a catalyst for people to tell stories, work through things, and become friends. Project managers can be sitting next to designers, who are next to writers. It’s how the agency really comes together.”