We all remember the iconic Most Wonderful Time of the Year Staples commercial from the 90s, but while parents still feel giddy at the return of their moody brood to a regular schedule, consumer habits, expectations, and attitudes about parenting and back to school have radically changed since then.
Today, brands are focusing on deep customer empathy, flexibility, diversity, and convenience with integrated, omni-channel campaigns. That means empowered kids, helpful dads, emotional storytelling, and strong CTAs.
We’ve selected 3 of our favorites to help you get inspired!
TikTok-style with Macy’s
This Back to School season, Macy’s stands out with TikTok friendly graphics and fast-paced, Meta avatar-style outfit changes. They invested in real customer empathy, garnering insights around school-age children’s fashion habits and realized personalization and reinvention were the most highly valued characteristics their young customers were striving for. After all, kids influence back-to-school buying decisions by up to 80%, so it’s crucial to keep their concerns front and center. Meanwhile, parents short on time and patience (ahem) can rely on Macy’s expanding omnichannel delivery options, including curbside pickup and delivery with DoorDash. A little something for everyone!
Heartfelt with Publix
Publix Supermarkets’ latest Back to School campaign leaned hard into emotional storytelling - and it payed off. The video has racked up more than 12 million views on YouTube, with customers praising it as “wholesome” and “a very realistic not often publicized aspect of single fathers.” It’s definitely a slow burn, barely mentioning the company by name and forfeiting the use of a Call To Action completely, but it’s a smart bet for a large company with the resources to support an emotional awareness campaign on TV with other, performance-focused channels working alongside the ad to convert impressions into clicks.
Superpowered with Walmart
Taking a page from Macy’s playbook, Walmart is also choosing to address customer insights directly: a need for confidence and convenience. When Back to School hits, kids are nervous and parents are stressed. This commercial skillfully addresses both issues by empowering children to believe in themselves (thanks to Walmart products) and highlighting their seamless delivery mechanisms, a far cry from the out-of-stock nightmares from pandemic school seasons.
The overall campaign focuses on different videos with superheroes spanning genders and races so the overall messages of empowerment and convenience can be as impactful as possible, across demographics.