Case | HBS Case Collection | July 2012

Droga5: Launching Jay-Z's Decoded

by Anita Elberse and Kwame Owusu-Kesse


In 2010, David Droga and Andrew Essex, co-founders of advertising agency Droga5, hope to convince both John Meneilly, manager of hip-hop star Shawn Carter—better known as Jay-Z—and a partner in Carter's company Roc Nation and Yusuf Mehdi, senior vice president of Microsoft's Online Services division, to enter into an unprecedented, high-stakes partnership to benefit the launch of Carter's new lyrical memoir, Decoded. Droga5 wrestles with two disparate challenges: developing a campaign for the book's launch and finding a way to drive trial for Bing, Microsoft's new search engine. Droga5's innovative solution is to kill two birds with one idea: a massive, interactive scavenger hunt involving outdoor, bespoke, and digital media. Because Spiegel & Grau, a Random House imprint that holds the rights to the book, lacks the funds to market Carter's memoir at a scale deserving of a superstar, Droga5 is asking Microsoft to shoulder most of the campaign's costs. How can Droga5 broker a deal between Roc Nation, Random House, and Microsoft, and ensure success for each of the parties? And is pursuing this campaign idea a smart investment for the young agency? The case describes a set of decisions that paved the way for a groundbreaking advertising campaign that would win major advertising-industry awards, including the Grand Prix at the 2011 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and a 2012 Gold Effie.

Keywords: Advertising; Advertising Campaigns; Marketing; Brands and Branding; Entertainment; Advertising Industry; Entertainment and Recreation Industry;


Elberse, Anita, and Kwame Owusu-Kesse. "Droga5: Launching Jay-Z's Decoded." Harvard Business School Case 513-032, July 2012.