Mansfield Inc.

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School is now in session and yes, marketing for 2017’s back-to-school season began earlier than ever this year—campaigns from Office Depot and Lands’ End started as early as mid-June before many students even finished their final exams. Compared with 2016, back-to-school TV commercials did not begin airing until mid-July. While marketers are pushing their brands, products and tech earlier and earlier each year, we get even more time to analyze the effectiveness of each campaign.

Here are four notable campaigns from this year’s back-to-school season, plus one classic ad that’s always relevant.

IKEA

Using YouTube influencers and Snapchat to reach their target audience, the furniture brand enlisted pop music/web comedy stars Superfruit to promote their college dorm products through interactive videos. With Superfruit hosting, the ads utilize Snapchat’s vertical-video ads that let users to “swipe up” to play clips and answer quiz questions around their home décor tastes to find the right IKEA products for them. Once you’ve completed the quiz, you can then click through to IKEA’s website to buy the products featured in the video.

By using influencers to reach their target audiences on a medium they regularly interact on, IKEA created a targeted, engaging and interactive campaign that puts their products top-of-mind for the people most interested in them.

 

HP

Hewlett-Packard is attempting some serious appeals to our emotions in this tear-jerking ad based around an evolving parent-child relationship and the transition into adolescence. The product it’s actually advertising, the Sprocket Photo Printer, takes a backseat in the narrative while playing an important role within it.

The ad tells a relatable story for parents and kids and gives everyone else a subtle reminder that there’s a nifty cell phone-sized printer to make the moments you capture even more memorable.

Gap

Gap has produced a series of ads for Gap Kids with their “Forward with” theme running throughout. The campaign features four short films that each showcase a different life skill for children to adopt. This spot, entitled “Forward with Kindness”, centres around a reading of Raquel Jaramillo’s book, Wonder (that features a boy born with facial defects who helps his community learn about kindness), to demonstrate “the world wants to be kind.”

This ad is also features a racially diverse group of children including some with facial differences to drive home a message of inclusiveness and acceptance to kids returning to school.

 

Marks and Spencer

This ad for the British multinational retailer is narrated by a seemingly nervous schoolboy walking into his first day of class. Internally, he confronts the highs and lows of his upcoming school semester in an understated and thoughtful message of self-confidence.

Like Gap’s ad, this commercial does not overtly promote any one particular product but makes use of the brand’s status as a household name to instil feelings of encouragement and self-assurance in viewers.

 

Bonus ad: Staples

This 1996 Staples commercial is a classic, featuring parents skipping down the aisles singing “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” in anticipation of their kids returning to school, while they follow sluggishly behind with hanging heads.

Staples has used at least five various iterations of this popular campaign throughout the years, with the most recent version running in 2013.

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