When it comes to back to school – the second-highest-value selling season of the year (after Christmas) – while most retail advertisers seem to be stuck in the same old we-have-the-school-stuff-you-buy-every-year-for-less time warp, a few aren’t. Neither are many manufacturers of back-to-school products. That’s what a just-released Ace Metrix study of the back-to-school commercials that registered most strongly with consumers shows.
Seven of those spots were from retailers, and the remaining three were from manufacturers. None of them had the same old “get what you need for less” message. And two of those top ten were created right here in Richmond – by The Martin Agency, for Wal-Mart.
“Retailers go into announcement mode,” says Ace Metrix CEO Peter Daboll, “and for the most part those don’t resonate well. Retailers aren’t developing creative stories particularly well, and they’re missing out on an opportunity. What really resonated well this year…either had an interesting product or an interesting new message.”
Of the top ten commercials, the new product/new message mix was right down the middle, with five of each.
Four of the five product-oriented spots were actually product-with-deal spots, though in some the deal was much more prominent than others.
Microsoft (#1) emphasized the deal, which was that if you bought a Windows 7 PC, you’d get a free Xbox 360 – just the thing to help college students keep their minds on their studies. Dell (#9) also offered a free Xbox, but as an afterthought; their emphasis was on the fact that you could buy a new outer cover every semester to make your Dell laptop look different.
One of the Wal-Mart spots (#7) was heavy on the deal, which was price-off on a matched set of smart phones with video conversation capability, and featured a father-and-son chat with a library backdrop that falls away, revealing fraternity rush week antics. And the Staples commercial (#5) featured “Modern Family” child star Rico Rodriguez shamelessly emoting over the virtues of a flash drive for only $4.95.
The only commercial that was pure product was from Crayola (#3), showing how its dry-erase crayons and board sets made dry-erase writing, drawing and coloring kid-size.
Of the five message commercials, two were Message commercials. J C Penney’s (#2) pushed the store’s Pennies from Heaven promotion, which urges customers to round up their purchases to the nearest dollar, with the excess cash being donated to after-school programs, and Chex pushed their “Boxtops for Education” program, which donates money to schools for each specially marked boxtop or emblem turned in. Either one is certainly more worthwhile than Xboxes.
And of all ten, only three had not only messages, but also ideas. Two from Best Buy (#4 and #10) continued the chain’s Geek Squad branding by showing college students with Best Buy Geeks strapped, backpack-like, to their backs as a way to dramatize how with Best Buy, support is always with you. (That’s tech support, not back support.) And the other Wal-Mart spot (#6) shows how Wal-Mart will match any advertised price, even if you don’t have the ad to prove it.
So are these great tv spots, or are they great only in comparison to most back-to-school garbage? Click the links and see for yourself. We report, you decide.