It's hard to believe we have come to the mid-point of summer, and with a new school year rapidly approaching, back to school campaigns are beginning to surface in the media. With that in mind, I wanted to share with you the top five campaigns that I think will be most effective in targeting the youth market this season:
1. Material Girl: Madonna and her daughter Lourdes (Lola) have designed a new fashion line appropriately titled, Material Girl. The new collection's release campaign has been developed around social media, with an emphasis on Lola's Material World blog. Lola offers her personal fashion opinions, travel experiences and sneak peeks of Material Girl merchandise in her posts. Madonna is also taking part in the marketing of this campaign by offering consumers a chance to win a trip to meet her in New York City. The use of Madonna's celebrity status has been beneficial to the marketing of their new line and Lola's blog is a great way to incorporate the younger generations. Material Girl is to hit Macy's stores in August and the collection already has a strong Web following.
2. JC Penney's: JCPenney's "New Look. New Year. Who Knew!" campaign is combining back to school fashion with the latest social media and mobile trends. JCPenney is looking to revamp their image with teens by incorporating iPhone applications, weekly fashion texts and mobile coupons into their campaign. Teens will be able to show off their fashion finds from JCPenney, on jcp.com, with video posts and product reviews. The Company will also be the exclusive retailer of its augmented reality experience on Seventeen magazine's Seventeen.com. The augmented reality experience will simulate JCPenney 's merchandise into a real world environment, which will allow users to virtually try on merchandise. JCPenney's new campaign takes innovative approaches in incorporating the teen audience and is an excellent way to receive feedback from teens on merchandise.
3. Staples: Office supply store Staples has also tapped into the teen market this back to school season. They partnered with DoSomething.org for their "Give Back-Pack" campaign, which is focused on providing school supplies for impoverished students. To encourage participation, Staples has enlisted former American Idol Kellie Pickler, pop musician Jason DeRulo and TV star Drake Bell to donate to the cause. Participants in the campaign can declare their membership in one of the three celebrity sponsored "packs" on the campaign Web site, they can then donate school supplies to their designated "pack" at a Staples's retail location. Each celebrity has agreed to donate up to $5,000 to DoSomething.org. Staples' shoppers can also make a $1 donation at the point of sale. Those who enter can win a trip to meet one of the three celebrities or a backpack filled with autographed school supplies. Staples' campaign is a great way for teens to get involved with the community and a great way for Staples to use cause marketing.
4. Kmart & Selena Gomez: Selena Gomez partnered with Kmart on her clothing line "Dream Out Loud," which features trendy clothes for the everyday girl on an affordable back to school budget. The line's back to school campaign features the new concept of "snap-tags," or special logos that customers can photograph and e-mail to receive Kmart coupons or special Selena Gomez updates. The "Dream Out Loud" campaign is another campaign that is utilizing cell phones to target teen consumers and it will be interesting to discover how the use of "snap-tags" resonates among teens.
5. Apple: Apple looks to lend a hand to students and teachers by offering special education rates on their Mac's. Through September, any college student or a faculty or staff member at any grade level can buy a new Mac with Apple education pricing (savings up to $200). Apple is also going to include with your purchase a free 8GB iPod Touch, which features built in Wi-Fi for downloading games, apps, songs and much more. This campaign is a great way for Apple to reach out to college students on a budget.
The key to success this back to school season will be total integration of social and interactive media. It's not enough to have a cool website or fun promo code. As more and more teens shift to smartphones, it's going to be important for companies to find ways to reach them on the go. And as Staples shows, cause marketing is still a great way to tap into back-to-school dollars. The season has only begun, and as we saw last year, will most likely extend into the mid-fall, but these five retailers have definitely tapped into the spirit of Back-to-School 2010.