Design lead prepares to leave John St.

Executive design director Mo Bofill is planning to start a new venture in the fall.

Executive design director Mooren “Mo” Bofill is preparing to leave her role leading the design department at John St.

Announced to the agency Wednesday afternoon, Bofill plans to start a new design venture, details of which will be announced closer to its launch in October.

“John St. has been so integral in my growth as a leader, a creative, and human,” Bofill said. “I’ve learned and grown so much over the last five years, and the time felt right to move on to a new challenge.”

Bofill will remain with John St. until Sept. 18.

“As a company of entrepreneurs, John St. fully supports her decision, although of course we’re sad to see her go,” Arthur Fleischmann, group CEO of Ogilvy and John St., tells strategy. “She’s beloved at John St. for her big contributions and big heart. We’re proud of Mo and only wish her the best.”

Design director Justin Close will be “stepping up” his duties with Bofill’s departure, Fleischmann says, leaning on the agency’s bench strength in design, though additional announcements about staffing in the department are forthcoming.

Bofill first joined John St. in 2015, helping to start the agency’s design practice. She has since worked across John St.’s full portfolio of clients, resulting in work, such as No Frills’ “Hauler” platform, that has been recognized at D&AD, Cannes Lions, The One Show and ADCC. She is also a member of the RGD and helped create a design program at Miami Ad School Toronto.

Though she is keeping most details of her new venture under wraps until the fall, Bofill tells stratetgy that it will be a creative agency with design “inherently in the DNA” of all its offerings, including advertising.

“I’ve always believed that design isn’t a department, it’s a way of thinking,” she says. “Design thinking is way in which we approach solving our client’s problems to drive business growth, create meaningful experiences for people, and contribute to culture.”

Despite it being a challenging year for the industry, Fleischmann says John St. has been able to avoid layoffs, furloughs, hour and salary reductions due to the pandemic. He says the agency’s executive team has helped guide the agency through the crisis, adding that there has also been momentum on the new business front, such as healthcare business wins, picking up the account for Door Dash and being part of Theo, a WPP-led dedicated unit set up to serve Rogers. Fleischmann adds that there has also been a “cautious return to spending” by its other clients, which include Loblaw, Home Hardware, Boston Pizza, KFC, Tangerine and Mitsubishi.