Grading Back to School: The Most Likable Ads So Far + Shoes Get Starring Role

Each week this summer, FN is offering a roundup of essential news, data and analysis about the important back-to-school (BTS) selling season.

Just Like That

Marketers have many goals for their consumer ads: to create awareness, develop a connection and/or drive purchasing — and it can be tough to accomplish everything at once. Advertising insights company Ace Metrix recently polled parents to get their thoughts on this year’s crop of back-to-school commercials. The top three “Most Likable” ads were Gap’s “Gap to School: Rock Anthem,” Walmart’s “Big Day Back” and Staples’ “Best Move.” Gap’s seasonal spot took the No. 1 spot and got high marks for its rendition of Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child of Mine” by a group of super-talented youngsters. However, it fell short of being “convincing,” according to Ace Metrix, because it was light on company branding and references to BTS shopping. The Walmart ad, meanwhile, emphasized the retailer’s bargain prices, prompting roughly 69% of parents to indicate an intent to purchase.

Shoes Are the Thing

While market analysts have disagreed over the sales outlook for the 2019 BTS season, one thing they all agree on is that shoes will be a top-performing category. In fact, a recent report from IBM predicted that stores that sell footwear (for all age groups) will be up 6.4% in August over the prior year. That perhaps explains why many retailers that carry a wide range of product types have focused their marketing on kicks. Take, for instance, that well-liked Walmart ad (see above), which highlights fashion and athletic sneakers, or this spot from Academy Sports + Outdoor about gearing up for the season with its sneakers and cleats by Nike and other top brands.

Social Studies

Macy’s is proving it’s hip with the kids with its latest back-to-school campaign. The 117-year-old department store linked up with Snapchat and NBCUniversal for season 3 of the Snap Original “The Dead Girls Detective Agency” series, which premiered on Aug. 11. Throughout the season, Macy’s will be integrated into the story with mentions and BTS product placements. And this marks the first “swipe up to shop” opportunity from a non-skippable commercial within one of the social platform’s scripted shows. In addition, Macy’s “All Brand New” BTS campaign also includes an activation with TikTok, the growing China-based video app. Users are encouraged to take part in the “All Brand New Challenge” by recording their own content celebrating the start of the new school year. With its short-form video formats, TikTok’s popularity has spiked rapidly: It was downloaded 660 million times in 2018, making it the most popular app on Apple’s App Store for the year.

Want More?

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See what advice top shoe players would give their younger selves:

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