- Ad agency Mischief @ No Fixed Address only launched a year ago but is already winning big brands like Kraft Heinz and Eos.
- Leaders say its no-silos approach has helped it attract clients over the holding companies.
- It’s already grown its revenue 70 times what it was in month one.
Last October, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese turned heads with a cheeky ad campaign, “Send Noods” not “nudes,” that got people to give away boxes of its mac and cheese to others during the pandemic.
The campaign, which ran on social media and dating sites, drew pushback from some parents who viewed it as too risqué, but it did what it intended: grab consumer attention. The campaign, by agency Mischief @ No Fixed Address, received 500 million earned media impressions and 24,000 boxes were donated, while this week it was awarded two prestigious Cannes Lions awards.
Most important, it pleased Kraft Heinz, which has funneled more work to Mischief, handing it brands like Capri Sun and Oscar Mayer’s P3 protein packs.
Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer Greg Hahn co-founded Mischief as the US arm of Canadian ad agency No Fixed Address after being laid off from Omnicom’s BBDO in the pandemic. He said he wanted to build an unconventional agency model unfettered by silos or hierarchies where ideas can flow from anywhere and Mischief could “attract the type of brands that want to make a stir.”
At the typical holding company, departments including creative, media, PR, and strategy are separate, and ads have to go through layers of approvals from various execs in each department. Hahn said those layers prevent agencies from doing risky kind of campaigns like “Send Noods.”
"We don't think of our strategy department as a strategy department or creative department as a creative department," Hahn said. "Our best creatives are our best strategists and our best strategists are our best creatives. There are no egos."
David Lafond, CEO and co-founder of No Fixed Address and Mischief, said he was impressed by Hahn's vision and was already looking for the right leader to launch the company's US operation. Lafond said he trusted Hahn's unconventional thinking and gives him complete creative freedom with US clients, which has paid off: Mischief's revenue is 70 times what it was in month one and has become a sizable part of No Fixed Address' projected $40 million in revenue this year.
Mischief has about 40 staffers. It also shares resources with No Fixed Address, which has about 200 people. It's been entirely remote but plans to open an office in New York in the fall.
Most agencies of its size rely on projects, which are less lucrative than retainer work. But Kerry McKibbin, Mischief president and partner, said the agency's business is about 60% agency-of-record contracts and that Mischief also pitches for agency searches.
Mischief has also won business from big brands like OkCupid and Molson Coors, plus Shutterfly's business and Eos' full account after doing project work for the lip balm and skin products maker.
For Eos, Mischief created an ad inspired by a viral TikTok clip in which creator @killjoyy encouraged viewers to "Bless Your F*ing Cooch" by using its products.
"The ask was to scare us a little and thrill us a lot," Eos Chief Marketing Officer Soyoung Kang said. "We hadn't imagined that our partnership could also deliver such incredible and immediate growth for our business."
Hahn believes the pandemic has helped attract brands to new agencies like his over holding companies that historically dominated ad spending.
"I think the pandemic made marketers look at problems differently," Hahn said. "I don't know how many household brands would have gone outside their traditional agencies if it hadn't been for the pandemic."