Most designers only dream of working on an ad that will air during the Super Bowl. After Mohamed Saeed first had a chance to work on one of them – a Sprint commercial that ran during Super Bowl 2018 – he invited people to watch the game at his home. But when the ad started, Saeed went to the bathroom to avoid watching it.
“That’s how I felt about my work at the time,” Saeed, who was then a creator on Droga5, told Marketing Brew. He has since founded Mojo Supermarket, an agency he started three years ago after finding himself frustrated with the usual limitations of marketing – 30-second TV ads, social posts, etc.
“I wanted to create a place where we could enter all these creative people and make their ideas home more than just advertising,” Saeed explained.
However, much of what Mojo Supermarket has done so far is actually ads, although Saeed claims that will change this year. “This is going to be a creative company that solves problems other than advertising.”
According to Said, Mojo Supermarket wants to help brands “get attention” rather than pay for it. In his words, “Advertising should work like life’s business. You don’t go to a bar and buy a bunch of people’s drinks and you become the most interesting person. You have to have something interesting to say.”
So far, the agency has collaborated with brands ranging from Adidas, to the Truth Initiative, to Match.com. In 2020, Rihanna’s lingerie brand Savage x Fenty helped promote its second fashion show by placing false “sensitive content” warnings on Instagram photos that the event was connected to.
Most recently, Mojo Supermarket worked with the non-profit Girls Who Code and Doja Cat to create an interactive version of the musician’s “Woman” music video which is essentially an introductory compelling coding course.
The agency’s work on Match has been more traditional, with television ads and billboards declaring that “adult date is better.” This kind of work appears to run counter to Said’s aversion to “paying people to watch” ads, aka putting media dollars behind them. But Saeed argued that paid media could stimulate earned media if it “resonated” enough, pointing to a billboard the agency created for Match.
“There’s one near where I am, and I’ve seen it five times. And four times out of five, there’s been someone taking a picture of it,” he said.
Last summer, once vaccines became widely available, Mojo Supermarket created a campaign encouraging singles to “lick every stranger they can.” The brand captioned the message on billboards, social media, and lollipops, asking people to enjoy a “good consensual relationship, or seven” before heading to Match to look for something more serious.
Match’s chief marketing officer, Aisha Gillard, called the campaign “a great example of getting noticed in culture. Strong creator told POV [at] a specific moment in time. [It] It grabbed attention right away and got people talking about who the match is and what we stand for today.”
I look ahead
To date, Mojo Supermarket, which recently won the StockX resale market, has 38 employees. According to the agency, it generated $10 million in revenue last year, up from $1.9 million in 2020.
“On the first day of the pandemic, we had three people, including me. We had no income, we had no customers; we just got fired,” Saeed explained. But Saeed believes the switch to WFH with a push from Covid actually helped the supermarket. Mojo—whose employees are currently working remotely—is growing, as many of the marketing industry’s bells and whistles have been stripped.
“During the pandemic, my Zoom box [representing] The three-person agency was the same Zoom Square in Anomaly, which was the same as Zoom Square at BBDO Worldwide. So it was an idea versus an idea.
Internally, he said, he is trying to foster an environment in which employees can learn and have the opportunity to work across different campaigns. “We change the creative teams in the middle of the project a lot,” Saeed explained, adding that “everyone builds on everyone’s ideas, as if you were in film school or advertising school again.”
For now, Saeed is keeping his creative ambitions for the Mojo Supermarket close to the jacket, but he insists not. Just To be an advertising agency in the future. “There’s going to be more creativity that comes out of it other than advertising.”
He pointed to a few projects created by the agency that were not advertising campaigns for clients, such as “Give Her a Break,” a streaming platform created in 2020 to “hack the Oscars.” To draw attention to the fact that few women were nominated for Best Director, the platform, which airs the Oscars, has replaced standard commercial breaks with trailers for films directed by women. The project was covered in The Guardian and Variety.
“We made it out of our author’s vault,” he said. We can turn that into a TV channel. We can turn that into an editorial channel. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that when we have an idea, it can get past the campaign. “