February 5, 2021 • 6 min read
In the weeks leading up to the school year, brands roll out the back to school marketing campaigns they’ve spent months on. Considering that total spending for K-12 and college-related supplies is projected to reach $82.8 billion this year, it’s no surprise that companies dedicate a lot of time to making their back-to-school marketing campaigns bigger and better than ever.
So, what does a great back to school campaign look like? Here are just a few examples of back-to-school marketing efforts that passed with flying colors.
The Staples For Students campaign (aka #StaplesforStudents) supports education efforts in a couple of important ways. First, it offers a huge incentive to shop at Staples stores for back-to-school supplies: Customers who spend $25 at a Staples get a chance to win a $50,000 scholarship, or one of four $25,000 scholarships.
Staples has once again teamed up with DonorsChoose.org to generate support for teachers and students. Shoppers can choose to support their favorite classrooms at local Staples locations, and the chain will match donations during the back-to-school season.
The company has also teamed up with Jessica Alba this year to raise the campaign’s profile. With Alba as the voice of this year’s campaign, Staples hopes to see more participation in its charitable giving promotion. As a mother of school-aged children herself, Alba understands the excitement around the season, and the challenges it poses for parents.
The Staples for Students campaign is a winner not just because of its star power, but because it directly supports hardworking teachers and students across the country who might otherwise struggle to afford all of their necessary classroom materials.
At a time when back to school ads can come across as overly consumerist, the Staples campaign shines an important light on the teachers who play such a critical role in the development of children across the country.
When most people think of back-to-school shopping, online electronics retailer Newegg might not immediately come to mind. The brand sought to change that this year with its Newegg Back-to-College campaign.
Going on through the end of August, the campaign features a Dorm Battlestation Giveaway (#DormBattlestation) with a Grand Prize of “the ultimate college setup.” With a gaming laptop, keyboard, VR headset, and other highly-coveted tech, we’re not sure how much studying will actually get done, but it will definitely get done in style.
The contest is easy to enter and doesn’t require a purchase, which is a huge benefit to cash-strapped college students.
Newegg’s Back-to-College campaign also features tips and tools to make the transition to dorm life easier for college students. The company created a Facebook Live video to show students which products will help them as they set up their dorms. It also created a 2018 Buying Guide to walk customers through the process of choosing a computer that will meet their needs and budget, along with other related tech.
Newegg even broaches the topic of decorating a dorm room with a guide that feels friendly and approachable rather than just another sales pitch.
Like Staples, Target is the type of store parents love because they can get all of their back-to-school shopping done in one trip.
Target makes the process even easier by adding its School List Assist feature. This tool enables shoppers to find their children’s classroom supply lists online and add them to their digital shopping cart for check-out. Parents can choose to have the products delivered or pick them up at their local store once the shipment is ready.
Target doesn’t just hit the mark with parents, though, it also aims to improve the back-to-school season for teachers.
Earlier this summer, Target offered a 15% off coupon for teachers to help them stock their classrooms. Since most teachers pay for school supplies out-of-pocket, this is a big help and a head-nod that the retail giant gets it.
And if convenience and coupons aren’t enough, Target has also enlisted social influencers to document their back-to-school shopping adventure. Of course, the sassy girls featured in the promotion, Mila and Emma Stauffer, get side-tracked by all the other fun stuff Target has to offer, including pencil skirts instead of pencils, and highlighter makeup in addition to the kind you’d use in a textbook.
The video is a fun way to show that back-to-school shopping is an experience for the whole family to share, and that there’s way more to Target than notebooks and writing tools.
While Best Buy is a well-recognized destination for tech and accessories, parents of young children may not initially see how valuable the store can be during the back-to-school season.
To combat this notion, the retailer created a Student Hub and a Parent Hub to address the technology needs of students in all age groups. The Hubs include buying guides and other resources to help customers find the products that will make this school year a great one.
The Student Hub features a form that matches students with the right computer based on their preferences and expected uses, along with a Student Deals section showcasing price cuts and other promotions on top products.
In the Parent Hub, Best Buy recommends products that can keep children safe online and offline. Among the offerings are headphones that that keep the volume at a lower level to protect young eardrums, and home security systems that make it easier and safer for kids to come home in the afternoon – along with alerts for parents to keep them updated on comings and goings.
With this online strategy, Best Buy reminds parents that going back to school is about more than just having enough notebooks. It’s an annual tradition for families around the world.
By combining digital savvy, fresh perspectives, and good old fashioned storytelling, the campaigns above stand out among the crowded back-to-school landscape. Soliciting celebrity endorsements helps, too, especially when they’re in the thick of back-to-school supply runs themselves.
Clearly these brands have done their homework to find out which promotions will get the highest grades online. We give each of these campaigns an A+!
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