Spending huge sums of money on advertising doesn't ensure the biggest return, says David Droga. He should know: As the founder of New York City- and London-based advertising agency Droga5, his insights have helped guide the ad strategies for business giants like Prudential, IHOP, and The New York Times.  

During the latest webinar in Inc.'s Real Talk: Business Reboot series, Droga added that now more than ever, brands must strive to be self-aware, and that indundating your audience with messages about social distancing misses the mark. Instead, he said, it's time to inject a little humor into advertising--because in dark times, people want to feel better.

He summed up this philosophy with one succinct message: "Just create shit that people want." 

In the interview with business journalist Andrew Essex, Droga also weighed in on a range of other subjects including creativity, the future of the workplace, and what coming back to work might look like. Here are some of the other highlights from the May 27 event.

The new office will look like the old office

If and when a Covid-19 vaccine is developed, offices will likely return to their old, familiar look, Droga predicted. Why? Because the extra precautions, though necessary, are stifling and distracting. "If you create an environment that feels sterile, what's the point?" he said. "If I'm talking to you through a Hazmat suit, I'm going to be thinking more about the color of the suit and why you chose that color."

The ad business will get smaller and more automated

The advertising business will see a contraction, Droga said, since global clients don't need an agency with offices everywhere. There will always be a place for humans in advertising--winning hearts and minds means being emotional, heartfelt, and thoughtful, after all--but many forms of marketing can be automated. For example, "If Maserati starts to give its cars away, you don't need incredible advertising," he said. "You can have a bot spread the word." 

Influencer advertising is over 

Droga cited a saying in advertising: "If you don't have a good idea, get a celebrity." The days may be numbered for that strategy, however. Some brands and agencies may continue to use celebrities and influencers, he said, "but the idea that you are someone I want to listen to just because you're famous doesn't matter anymore." 

Common advertising mistakes

When you're new to advertising, Droga said, strive for greater clarity and consistency. Too many brands try many different approaches hoping that one sticks--which only demonstrates that they don't know what they're doing. That may be a result of forgetting to inject passion into their businesses. "Don't stop giving a crap once you walk into the office," he said. "Just care. Caring is free."