“One thing we did in naming the agency Mischief is it tends to attract the kind of people who want a certain kind of work,” says Greg Hahn, co-founder and chief creative officer of Mischief @ No Fixed Address. “You go to an initialed agency for something that feels safe or expected.”
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That’s the answer Hahn gives for how the startup, born in the pandemic and already counting the likes of Kraft, Molson Coors and Pfizer as clients, will approach its second year in business. Taking on the “wrong kind of clients” can steer small agencies wrong, he says, but Mischief aims to maintain the purity of its creativity.
That creativity has seen it consistently come up with provocative and unexpected campaigns, whether that’s persuading Kraft Mac & Cheese to run a campaign encouraging people to “send noods,” hijacking Capri Sun and replacing it with water in Chicago schools, creating unnerving deepfakes of Kim Jong-un and Putin for not-for-profit RepresentUs or celebrating registered voters as “VILFs” in an election-timed push for OKCupid.
Its creative accolades have been matched in business success; Mischief pulled in income of $4 million during its first six months of operation. Mischief projects that by the close of 2021 it will have grown its income by a factor of 70 since its opening.
Its success rose from the ashes of pandemic jitters: The agency was founded after Hahn, the former chief creative officer of BBDO, lost his job early in the COVID-19 crisis and hooked up with independent Canadian agency No Fixed Address (NFA), which in turn was looking for a way into the U.S. market. They assembled the team, bringing in former MullenLowe Senior VP and Group Account Director Kerry McKibbin as president and recruiting BBDO’s Bianca Guimaraes and Kevin Mulroy as executive creative directors, at “super warp speed,” recalls NFA’s Co-Founder Dave Lafond. “We all had a similar mindset; we wanted to push boundaries.”
At the agency’s heart is small agency culture; Hahn wanted to get away from the fear that dominates in big agencies, and always ask “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”