Anyone who has spent time with David&Goliath founder David Angelo knows he is not short on passion for his work. But Angelo is equally—if not more so—dedicated to a higher purpose. The nonprofit organization Today, I’m Brave, Angelo’s brainchild, started with a message of hope for children in Sierra Leone and has grown to empower people to overcome any manner of challenge.
That spirit of unity and empathy infuses the agency’s work as well. Korean carmaker Kia, for example, used the past two Super Bowls to prioritize philanthropy. Internally, Angelo appointed Tiffany Persons as the Innocean-backed shop’s first-ever director of empathy in the wake of last summer’s reckoning with systemic racism—and Angelo facing tough feedback from the ad community after an appearance at the first Allyship & Action summit.
“What I learned from the experience is that people were looking for concrete action steps, and rightfully so,” Angelo told Adweek at the time, following up with an outline of his intentions.
Today, further moving D&G’s purpose forward, the agency launched a new creative impact hub to inspire more social responsibility and sustainability. Blake Winfree, former group creative director at Havas Chicago, was appointed chief of social impact. Ben Purcell, a 21-year veteran of D&G, was elevated to chief creative officer to see the vision through.
“Our goal is to build on our existing purpose-driven agency model, by reimagining or creating a new standard for the industry,” said Angelo, who also serves as creative chairman of D&G. “[It’s] a standard that breaks the creative barriers of industry sameness and is laser-focused on authentic, sustainable impact.”
At its core, Winfree and Purcell will oversee the agency’s creative department and work together across all existing clients to further align missions, purpose and values to drive measurable actions.
“Every brand has a soul,” said Winfree, noting that taking a neutral position may not be in a company’s best interest at times and that consumers demand accountability. “And we know that there is a direct correlation between the shared values of a brand and profitability and affinity that leads to positive actions and behaviors.”
Conceding that the process of getting brands to lean into their purpose doesn’t happen overnight, Winfree noted that success, measured by the requisite KPIs, requires the agency to help its existing client base while attracting like-minded brands.
“We have to walk the talk,” said Winfree, who also spent time at MullenLowe as vp and creative director, founding that agency’s 25Forty Project to increase diversity in the industry. “[Angelo] has done an incredible job of putting action into its intention” with the hire of Persons and the foundation built by Today, I’m Brave. “We can draft off of that momentum so that we can get some solid examples of how the creative impact hub can work.”
Even though the agency has been around for over two decades, Purcell said it still acts as a challenger brand, and the new setup is intended to further crystalize D&G’s vision.
“This is something that we’ve built for awhile. It’s not something that we’ve just turned on,” said Purcell, who has been at D&G since its founding in 2000.
There’s precedent for success with the agency’s purpose-driven model: Kia helped raise over $1 million dollars for youth homelessness during last year’s Super Bowl and funded a scholarship in 2019. Additionally, work for chip brand Stacy’s created awareness and action around female-founded businesses.