As back to school marketing begins, brands push value and stick to crayons

by Adrianne Pasquarelli, AdAge

The coronavirus has added another layer of uncertainty to the fall

It’s the time of year that kids typically loathe, but this year marketers are the ones doing the worrying. Following several months of remote learning and virtual classes due to the pandemic, uncertainty surrounds the return to school this fall. Some districts, such as Los Angeles and San Diego, have already announced a continuation of distance learning as virus cases rise in the region; other areas, such as New York City, are pursuing a mix of in-school and virtual classes. The ambiguity leaves marketers in a tight spot for the second-most crucial shopping season of the year after holiday. Many are delaying or downsizing campaigns, highlighting value, and deepening promotions.

“This year, we do see that advertising seems like it might be off to a somewhat slower start than it has been in some years,” says Elaine Chen, VP of marketing at Kantar. The market research firm found that TV spending between June 1 and July 12 has been $288,000 this year, compared with $1.5 million last year during the same time period.

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