School Days. Which Ad Is Your Favorite?

We made it through the season of “Back to School!”

Try as we might to hang onto our lazy days of summer, parents and kids are forced to start thinking like it’s fall in late July. Time and again summer was interrupted by ads for the cheapest #2 pencils and the latest trends in tween fashion. For retailers, or anyone who just loves school supplies, it’s a big deal, and a big spending season. According to the National Retail Federation, “the average family with children in grades K-12 will spend $669.28 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics.” Total combined spending for back to school and college expenses was forecasted to reach $74.9 million dollars.

Let’s take a look at some of ads of the back-to-school shopping season:

Target – This brand consistently hits the mark when it comes to delivering on their brand promise of “Expect More. Pay Less.” In addition to offering great value to shoppers, they have maintained a commitment to giving back 5% of revenue to the communities they serve, and this year they incorprated social responsibility into their back-to-school advertising.

TV spot: “Buy One, Give One”

Kmart – They aren’t as stylish as Target, and their prices aren’t as low as Walmart. As a brand they are lost somewhere in the middle with a tagline claiming “Where Members always get more.” But they did manage to get 546,000 views of their “Lunch Ladies” spot on YouTube, versus just 3,800 for the Target spot. The problem is the brand promise of their TV spots doesn’t hold up when you actually visit a store. Great creative and a mediocre brand experience will not get your brand very far.

TV spot: “Kmart Lunch Ladies”

Old Navy – CMO Ivan Wicksteed told Ad Age that this online music video was the “backbone” of Old Navy’s back-to-school efforts.” He admitted that TV spots still take the lion’s share of their advertising budget, and spots like this one featuring Amy Poehler have also been well received. This dual approach allows them to connect with parents via TV, and with the younger generation who largely consume media online. Old Navy’s brand positioning is “Fun, Fashion & Family” but, I am not sure the “unlimited” spot is consistent with this.

Old Navy “Unlimited”:

I think Old Navy “Spell Me This” wins this round, and we’ll watch to see if their Q3 sales figures back me up. Which one gets your vote?

Bonus question: Is this “back to school” commercial for a mall in Missouri truly the WORST TV spot you’ve ever seen?