With Mischief as Its Agency of Record, Carter’s Wants to Push the Boundaries of the Kids Category

The children’s apparel brand looks to appeal to the next generation of parents

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Carter’s, a heritage children’s apparel brand, has named Mischief @ No Fixed Address its creative agency of record as it looks to appeal to a whole new generation as Gen Z becomes parents. 

The company is looking to grow its brand and equity with unignorable marketing aimed both at its loyal customers and a whole new generation of parents. 

Mischief will lead all brand strategy and launch of a new creative platform where multiple ideas can live. The shop is tasked with developing creative to catapult the baby clothing retailer—which also owns OshKosh B’gosh, Little Planet and SkipHop—into culture. 

Mischief won the business without a pitch, which is how most of its relationships have been forged as of late, including MGM Resorts and Sizzler.

Forging a partnership

“We wanted to find a best-in-class partner in the creative space to help us remain relevant. We’re a brand that’s been around for 160-plus years of parenthood, and we are always striving to remain the most relevant brand available out there for the next generation of parents,” Carter’s chief marketing officer Jeff Jenkins told ADWEEK.

Jenkins added that Carter’s was looking for a partner that helps bring brands to the forefront of culture and understanding its audience. Through a mutual friend, Mischief and Carter’s were brought together.

“That is how every new business opportunity should come, is you meet the people, you connect with them, you see their vision and you feel aligned with it,” said Greg Hahn, co-founder and CCO at Mischief.

Hahn said that, beyond the connections between the teams, working with an iconic, category-defining brand, appealed to the agency. But more than its heritage, the brand is known for thinking outside the box, as it has shown during the last two Super Bowls, with billboard ads that played up the excitement of the game with a boost in baby making.

“There are so many provocative ways of attacking this for us, room to take this to a really interesting place,” said Hahn.

Informed by CPG and consumers

Jenkins has a background in the CPG category, and he came to Carter’s in 2019 and saw potential in the parenthood category, one that he saw was “sleepy on the communication side of it.”

Jenkins was used to pushing the envelope as part of teams at Taco Bell, Whole Foods and CKE Restaurants, and he has been pushing forward in his time at Carter’s. However, he feels that partnering with Mischief will help push the brand further while remaining true to customer truths about parenting.

“We wanted a partner that helps us shake things up that helps us connect to that next generation. Gen Z is now parents, and Mischief is so ingrained in tapping into culture, and figuring out how brands play in the culture,” said Jenkins.

Hahn added that much of the category treats parents as one-dimensional and tries to paint a rosy picture of parenthood with cute, docile kids, when in fact, parenthood can be messy and not all parents are created equal.

“It’s all of the messiness, but also the beautiful messiness, and the fun, and the exhaustion and all those different emotions,” said Jenkins.

To get to the human truths that will inform the work, Mischief and Carter’s will do a lot of social listening, finding the conversations happening between parents and with Carter’s consumers, to discover great insights and get to what’s relevant, then turn that into creative campaigns that will connect.

“It’s like that saying, ‘The more specific you are, the more universal you are.’ So, you find that one small truth that everyone thinks ‘only I think that’ but millions of people are,” and that will uncover that human truth, said Hahn.

Those truths might be cranky kids, tired parents, or as the teams recently uncovered, where the worst place to have a diaper blowout might be.

While Carter’s has been in the category for a long time, it’s not resting on its legacy, and with Mischief aboard the agency is out to help the brand define and defy the category.

Debut work from the collaboration will launch later this year. 

Details of the deal were not disclosed but the estimated 2023 spend for Carter’s is $27 million, mostly digital, according to COMvergence.

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