Back to School Season = Prime Time for Marketers


August means it’s back to school season. Have you noticed how marketing and advertising efforts are focused intensely towards children, college students and their parents? Clothing, office supply and even grocery stores recognize back to school season as a huge opportunity to boost sales. From GRIT’s perspective, let’s look at who is doing it well.


This super store successfully entices back to school goers of all ages with its catchy commercials, deals and creative products. Target promotes itself as a one-stop shop for all back to school items including supplies, clothing, backpacks and groceries. In addition, Target also “targets” (pardon the pun) college students with its dorm essentials products, making shopping easy.

Throughout the years, Target has prided itself on creativity. Last year, they launched a marketing campaign featuring nearly two-dozen youngsters, ages 8 to 17, who created all of the major elements of the campaign. From broadcast TV to digital, radio, social and in-store marketing, these youngsters did it all. Even the campaign’s theme song was sung by a tween girl band. The others storyboarded, scripted, illustrated, styled and directed every component along the way.

This campaign generated fantastic results. In what is the second largest sales driver after the holiday season, Target earned $1.04 per share, adjusted in that fiscal third quarter, on sales of $16.44 billion. Analysts had projected the company to report earnings of 83 cents a share on $16.3 billion in revenue. Not too shabby for a group of youngsters!

Office Depot

Despite larger super stores impeding the office supply market, Office Depot still does well in sales because of its back to school marketing techniques. Office Depot markets itself as having the largest school supply selection and the latest technology. Plus, it offers shoppers customized check-lists based on grade level, both in-store and online.

This year, in a push to grow sales and fight off competition from retail and e-commerce rivals, Office Depot is using a multi-platform marketing campaign, “Taking Care of Business.” The campaign brings back the use of the 1973 Bachman-Turner Overdrive song. The focus, through radio, TV, print, social, email, mobile and digital marketing, is how they help hard-working parents — “taking care of business is not for the faint of heart. Still, you take care of it. But who takes care of you?”

Office Depot is positioning itself as the place everyone can turn to —whether it be the busy mom juggling a career or a construction or office worker who needs a helping hand. To coincide with back-to-school shopping, Office Depot is using “Take Care of Back to School” as its campaign for teachers. They’re offering a discount for teachers as they count down the days leading up to school.


With a focus on college students, Ikea’s back-to-school campaign uses influencers on Snapchat to target millennials. Calling all social stars…earlier this year, Ikea was on the hunt for big time influencers to help them boost sales during this critical time of year. Working with MEC, they launched an initiative with pop music and web comedy duo Superfruit that pumps products for dormitories through an interactive video.

Vertical video ads prompt users to “swipe up” to play a clip that lets them answer questions and click on buttons about their home décor style, which ultimately finds the right products for them. Once the user completes the quiz, they click through Ikea’s website to buy products featured in the video.

While Ikea is using influencer marketing, they still rely heavily on paid advertisements to get visitors to see their content. They, like many other companies, realize millennials are saturated with messaging. And by providing them with something creative—it’s more likely to stick.

Don’t be surprised that many brands try to connect with back to school and jump on the band wagon to increase sales. Understanding your target audience and what resonates with them, will pay off big time if you hit the mark. Think you have a back to school product or service to market? We’d love to help, chat with us!