As schools across the nation closed in March, many companies were well into plans for the back-to-school season. Preparation halted and creative shifted while families anxiously waited to see when and how the new school year would unfold. Brands were challenged to develop compelling campaigns that could resonate with families no matter what school looked like in the fall.
Now, months later, we know the start to the school year has played out in a variety of scenarios depending on community circumstances and options. Despite the complex landscape, this remains a critical time for brands to successfully engage with consumers. Even with tough economic realities for many, consumers are spending. According to the National Retail Federation, total spending is expected to be nearly $34 billion, averaging more than $780 per family, a new record. Experts also expect this season to be longer than normal, with adapted spending habits based on revised school calendars and needs. As we contemplate this unusual back-to-school shopping season, the For Momentum team is inspired by several essential back-to-school brands leveraging social good to meet this moment of uncertainty.
JanSport and Gen Z
JanSport’s Lighten The Load campaign calls attention to mental health and wellness support. The campaign focuses on Generation Z, a priority audience for JanSport, and connects young people with resources to help them tackle potential mental health challenges they may be facing as they prepare to return to class. When brands champion a cause, they often lean on a nonprofit partner for expertise. JanSport instead looks to Generation Z as the storytellers and turns directly to mental health experts to offer resources and advice. The campaign’s multimedia approach meets GenZ where they are and strikes a direct and empowering tone. It’s a relevant cause that’s often challenging for brands to tackle. We are excited to watch this platform evolve!
Old Navy and Boys & Girls Clubs of America
Old Navy is a tried and true back-to-school brand. This year, Old Navy continued to expand their youth empowerment initiative ONward! through a back-to-school donation campaign in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America. In July and early August, Old Navy’s in-store and online campaign raised over $1.6 million to fund jobs and career development for Boys & Girls Clubs youth. The campaign encouraged customers to donate at checkout to support the recent expansion of the This Way Ahead program which helps young people build confidence and work-ready essential skills, like teamwork and communication.
We are inspired by Old Navy’s commitment to grow this multi-faceted initiative empowering the next generation. With a virtual start to school prompting some families to shift their consumer goods focus away from new outfits to other needs like desks and technology, Old Navy also launched a brand-awareness campaign that connects to their commitment to equality and celebrating differences. We are We highlights five young activists working to make a difference in the world. We like this campaign for Old Navy in particular as it speaks to their ongoing commitment to inclusivity and empowering youth. Again, the brand turns its microphone over to those who speak most authentically to the concerns of the moment. Since the campaign’s launch, Old Navy has shared perspectives of diverse influencers through social media as a way to continue the conversation.
Kleenex and DonorsChoose
Educators are also certainly facing innumerable challenges this year. Kleenex responded by partnering with DonorsChoose to help teachers across the nation prepare for back to school. Their investment of more than $1 million focuses on supplying classroom basics like paper, writing utensils, binders and dry erase boards to teachers across the nation. The best part is that consumers can capitalize on Kleenex’s generosity by making a donation to an approved project in their community. While funds are available, donations to qualifying projects will be matched by Kleenex. To date the partnership has helped more than 7,000 educators and 550,000 kids, and counting!
79% of Americans believe companies should support issues that are personally important to them and they feel a deep connection to brands with values similar to their own (2019 Porter Novelli/Cone Feeling Purpose Biometrics Research). Calling attention to issues that connect with many people’s hearts and minds has always been a way to stand out. Perhaps this year the impact is even more significant. No matter how your community is tackling the school year, For Momentum wishes kids and teachers across the nation a safe and productive return to class!