Staples Has a New Earworm of an Anthem: Ace of Base's 'The Sign'

Muhtayzik Hoffer and Joseph Kahn craft retro, print-tastic music video

"I saw the sign, and it opened up my eyes, I saw the sign."

I can't get Ace of Base's confoundedly catchy dance-floor fave "The Sign" out of my head. That's because I just watched Staples' new ads from creative agency Muhtayzik Hoffer and director Joseph Kahn (who's worked with Taylor Swift, Britney Spears and Lady Gaga, among others).

Running across digital and paid social, the push promotes a range of services offered by the office supply retailer. Specifically, Staples prints all sorts of signs. And when a customer walks into the store and spies posters to that effect, the sales staff cut loose, rocking pouty faces and retro dance-moves like it's 1993 all over again:

“The Sign” Music Video – Staples

"Life is demanding without understanding..."

Such an earworm! I'll buy 1,000 signs, just make it stop!

"Staples is in the printing business—any kind of sign or banner that you need, they have got you covered," MH creative director Allen Yu tells Muse. "We were tasked with bringing this story to life in a meaningful way for small businesses. After a few rounds, it became clear: Staples print advisors love printing big signs so much, they've been rehearsing and practicing their own recreation of the iconic '90s music video."

"Our target audience is small business owners, a group that has grown tremendously during the pandemic," notes Brendan Robertson, MH chief strategy officer and associate partner. "For the most part, this audience grew up in the '90s, and this iconic song gave us the opportunity to tap into a bit of that nostalgia."

Geico similarly mined the quasi-distant past for its "Scoop! There It Is!" ice-cream gambit with Tag Team. Staples, however, doesn't rewrite "The Sign" with brand-boosting lyrics. Instead, it simply uses the maddeningly memorable original track.

MH executive producer Austin Kim says he sought a cast "that was willing to go big on set" during the shoot at a Staples in Los Angeles.

Well, this red-shirted crew delivers. Driven by that Euro-reggae beat that just won't get out of your head, their euphoric expressions and zippy-dippy steps straight-up steal the show in the most ecstatically silly spots so far this year.


Marshall Warkentin: Chief Marketing & Merchandising Officer
Amy Lang: SVP, Marketing & Strategy
Drew Phillips: Head of Creative
Simona Gerzon: Sr. Director – Brand Activation
Noel Nowicki: Production Director
Emily Sanchez: Sr. Manager – Brand Activation

Joel Kaplan: ECD, Partner
Allen Yu: Creative Director
Greggy Adriano: Senior Art Director
Johann Lopez: Copywriter
Tanya LeSieur : Head of Production, Associate Partner
Austin Kim: Executive Producer
Cara Orlowski: Director of Business Affairs
Krista Osol: Director of Client Services
Hannah Getz: Account Director
Emily Menken: Account Supervisor
Anna Carnochan: Project Manager
Brendan Robertson: Chief Strategy Officer, Associate Partner
Angie Luchini: Senior Strategist

Production: Supply & Demand
Joseph Kahn: Director 
Charleen Manca : Executive Producer 
Matt Zion Basile : Executive Producer 
Nathan de la Rionda : Head of Production 
Nicola Doring : Line Producer 
Christine Miller : Production Supervisor
David Weldon : Director of Photography 
Brett Hess : Production Designer 
Edda Gudman : Stylist 
Michael Kahn : 1st AD 

Editorial: Cosmo Street
Chancler Haynes: Editor
Edward Schroer: Assistant Editor
Jennifer Helm: Producer
Shinya Sato: Picture Finishing
Taylor Armstrong: Picture Finishing

Color Correct: Apache
Jennifer Gaida: Colorist
Kirsten Harris: Producer

Mix: Lime
Jeff Malen: Mixer
Susie Boyajan: Executive Producer

VFX: HoodyFX
Denis Romanov: Producer

Music/Music Supervision: Position Music
Track: Ace of Base "I Saw the Sign"

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