Top Themes for 2014 Back-to-School Marketing Campaigns

The start of a new school year is just around the corner, so naturally there has been an influx of back-to-school marketing campaigns that I’m sure have caught everyone’s eyes. Each year I’m curious to see what the top brands come up with; how are they going to make this year’s campaign better than the rest?

There seems to be a few common themes between the campaigns this year. Brands are focusing on celebrating self-expression and empowerment and promoting philanthropy, all while still staying relevant to their audience. Here are three back-to-school marketing campaign themes that stood out to me the most:

Giving Back

Since the data breach last December, Target has been eager to gain the trust of its customers again. This year at Target, it’s all about “Buy One, Give One.” Between July 15 and August 2, Targeted donated one Target brand up&up school supply for every up&up purchase consumers made. With the help of it’s non-profit partner, Kids in Need Foundation, Target plans to donate up to $25 million in school supplies and hopes to impact 2 million students. This particular campaign is perfect for Target because their goal is to gain back those loyal customers by giving them a reason to buy the Target brand.

Great Clips has a similar marketing campaign, #Greatlist. The company partnered up with to give back to public education and teachers. With every download of the Great Clips Online Check-In App, Great Clips will make a donation, which will provide teachers with the necessary supplies to help their students learn. But Great Clips doesn’t stop there! The company will choose a winner each day from their local customers to receive back-to-school supplies shipped to their door for free.

Raising Hashtag Awareness

Kohl’s came up with a similar approach for this year’s back-to-school marketing campaign. Their slogan is “Find your yes.” The brand’s goal was to empower their customers to embrace ‘Yes’ in their everyday lives. This philosophy has been a part of the company’s slogan for years. Kohl’s believes that the things that matter most to in this world are the things that inspire us. To the things that matter most to their consumers, Kohl’s says, “Yes.”

Celebrating Self-Expression and Empowerment

JC Penney’s slogan for back-to-school is “Find a fit that lets you be you.” JCP encourages their consumers to celebrate self-expression, while underscoring its commitments to fit every shape, size, price point, style, and occasion.

On its site, JCP has an interactive feature called “Express Yourselfie.” This feature continues along the same theme, self-expression, while also relating to the younger consumer. The “Express Yourselfie” feature allows a guest to create and personalize an emoji that resembles them. The consumer can customize their emoji with accessories and hairstyles and post their emoji beside their “selfie.” In addition, each user can view style suggestions based on their personal style, creating a friendly, customizable shopping experience.