The 2013 “Back to School” season is expected to bring in $84 billion for retailers - that’s big business for an industry that is becoming more and more adept at creating savvy marketing campaigns geared at kids and their moms. These retailers try to make as much of an impact as possible given that the National Retail Federation expects spending to decrease by about 13% this year (as much as $50 per family). To help curb this drop in spending, retailers are making the most out of their display advertising, mobile, and social media campaigns. 
 
Many retailers focus on incentives, incorporate the latest trends or music, or apeal to cost-conscious parents who want to both give their kids what they want for the least amount of money. As with any advertising campaign, national retailers look for the most bang for their buck and the 2013-2014 Back to School season has seen campaigns that attack on all media fronts - video, tv, print and even old-fashioned on-the-ground grassroots word-of-mouth campaigns.
 
We've compiled a list of the five best Back to School promotions and campaigns this year based on overall reach (use of multiple types of media) impact ("Likes", views, downloads, etc.) and chatter (most press coverage). Not surprisingly, the list includes several big-box retailers who have made it their mission to reach Gen Y-ers and the moms who shop with them. There have also been a few surprise campaigns from smaller brands who seem to really understand what Back to School means for kids and parents from a coming-of-age perspective. Here is our list of top 5 back to school campaigns:
 
back to school campaign1. Kohl's: The "Win Big Things" promotion and sweepstakes sends an SMS message to consumers and says if they spend $30 or more at Kohl’s, they can receive $5 off of a $50 purchase at Staples. Kohl's is reaching consumers faster and more reliably than through a similar email promotion because SMS messages are delivered almost immediately and in a format that is read much more regularly than email. The text also includes a link to a mini-site where they can learn more about the sweepstakes and win prizes from popular brands. By combining several very popular marketing techniques, Kohl's has separated themselves from the retail clutter and will likely become a strategy they use for years to come.
 
2. Kmart: To gain ground against their competition, Kmart has gone old-school with a viral video that revolves around the popular "Yo Momma" jokes.  The video advertises special savings and offers on kids clothing and school supplies as well as spreads the word about their free layaway program. Their "Shop Your Way" loyalty program, which offers free layaway, also gives customers access to a new pay-in-store service, free store pick-up and free shipping for customers when a product they want is out of stock in their store. This campaign appeals to families on a budget. This is Kmart's very smart way of staying current without seeming like the lower level option for Back to School.
 
3. Target: The powerhouse store used a reality-themed digital campaign, campus events, TV ads, and more to introduce 200 new products. Focused centrally on college millenials, Target's digital campaign lets users interact directly with five YouTube personalities. Viewers interact via social media and mobile devices to win prizes and products from Target. The retailer also uses "Target After Hours" where buses transport students to local Targets to stock up on supplies. Target positioned as the go-to staple for all things new - like the first day of college - by appealing directly to college students and providing exactly what they want in the ways that they want them. 
 
4. Teen Vogue: For the second year in a row, the popular tween/teen magazine has declared the second Saturday in August as a national Back to School Shopping Saturday (#BTSS) shopping day where brands collaborate to offer special promotions and product launches. About 50 brands participate, including newcomers like Keds, Garnier, Macy's (which launched a clothing brand for Teen Vogue in March), Revlon and Toyota. The campaign got the word out primarily through social media, a mobile insider app and a dedicated website. Based on two years of compounded growth and influence among tweens through age 30, Teen Vogue plans on making this an annual event for many years to come.
 
back to school campaigns
 
5. Apple: Apple started a campaign for Back to School that revolves around discounts - something you don't usually associate with the sleek technology brand. Students can qualify for education-based discounts as well as a $50 gift card for students who purchase an iPhone. This year marks the first time Apple has included the iPhone in their Back to School promotion and their purchase will be rewarded with free apps or digital downloads through iTunes. By making their products just a little more accessible, Apple aims to reward students and to be further identified as the must-have technology brand.
 
Because Back to School season is the last hurrah for retailers before Halloween and Christmas, most campaigns will quickly transition to holiday messaging. It's a short campaign, but these brands managed to execute seamless, multi-faceted campaigns that have really struck a chord with their key audience. To learn more about how to create content (for advertising, social media, videos, and more), check out our free content marketing white paper
 
Posted by Jessica Noble
 

content marketing