A+ Back to School Advertising

The back to school season is one of the best opportunities for brands and retailers to connect with consumers, and bring in revenue. With tens of billions of dollars expected to be spent by US shoppers this season alone, and endless competition amongst retailers, it’s more important than ever to distinguish yourself with compelling stories.

Below, we’ve rounded out a few of our favorite advertisements from recent history.

Kleenex Shows Its“Commitment to Care”

With the #ShareKleenexCare hashtag, the ubiquitous paper-based home care brand told a beautiful story through advertising during the 2016 back to school season. Kleenex brought together students who were anxious about going to middle school, and helped them prepare sweet messages (written on Kleenex packs, of course) for their classmates. The thoughtfulness of the campaign tugs on our heartstrings.

Staples “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

In this back to school classic, the office supply superpower plays on parents’ emotions, celebrating “the most wonderful time of the year” — that is, when the kids return to the classroom and the parents get their time back to themselves. It’s a comedic take on common feelings, and a brilliant way for Staples to resonate with its customers.

Amy Poehler Moderates Old Navy’s Spelling Bee

Comedy’s a common theme for our favorites on the list. In this 2014 back to school commercial, Amy Poehler is a not-so-great spelling bee moderator who gets distracted by her students’ great fashion sense and deal-hunting prowess.

Target Celebrates Kids’ Potential

Kids took part in directing, writing, illustrating, and more to help bring Target’s 2016 back to school campaign to life. “Kid Product Test Lab” puts the retailers products’ to the “test” in a cute and creative way, bringing youthful fun and positivity to the unique campaign.

Crayola’s #ThankaTeacher Contest

While many back to school campaigns focus on students and parents, Crayola’s most recent focuses on the educators who make learning possible. The mission of the colorful brand’s “Thank a Teacher” campaign is to generate a million thank-yous for teachers. According to its site, the contest portion of the campaign encourages families to upload the handmade thank-you notes they create for their teachers for the chance at $20,000 for their family, teacher, and school. While there’s a clear incentive, the campaign still focuses on kindness and gratitude, and that’s a beautiful thing.

Best Buy’s “The Major Success”

Best Buy promises to have tech that handles well-rounded college students with this ad that shows how 2-in-1s can set up students for success.

While the back to school season’s arrival is predictable, the way that brands and retailers handle it with refreshing creativity each year, and those that tell engaging stories are those that are the most talked about.

What are your favorite back to school ads for 2018? Of all time? Tell us in the comments!

Rachael Doukas