September 3, 2019 admin


It’s that time of year again where every company you have ever heard of is donning an all-caps hashtag on their website. It’s #BacktoSchool time.

For many companies, especially in the retail sector, Back to School time is similar to Christmas. It’s a great time to push sales and increase engagement with customers because, at the end of the day, there will never be a shortage of children needing to get ready for the new academic year. For example, did you know that a survey conducted by marketing intelligence agency Mintel revealed that Brits collectively spent a total of £510 million on school uniforms in 2018?

Although the kids have returned to school this week – there’s still plenty of time to jump on the bandwagon and catch those last-minute shoppers.

Here’s our top four tips for those in the world of retail that are looking to stand out from the crowd this September.


It may seem like a bit of a redundant task – after all, the retail sector created #BacktoSchool but you might be surprised to see that it’s not just clothes manufacturers and stationery suppliers who can take advantage of this time of year.

Whether your brand is mainly targeting children and their parents or you’ve got an audience of young adults heading off to university, there’s plenty that can be done when you think outside of the box.

Experience-led activations instore can be a huge footfall driver and by getting your audience involved, you can even get direct feedback. Why not host a live ‘show and tell’ of some packed lunch recipes for busy mums or get students instore to create their perfect fresher’s survival kit?


Once you’ve got a good understanding of the audiences you’re targeting in your #BacktoSchool campaign, it’s worth taking an introspective look at the specific products or services you want to push forward.

In theory, almost every brand out there has something that could be tied to the general #BacktoSchool trend, but what differentiates a campaign that resonates with the audience from one that is just a blatant sales pitch is good storytelling.

Appealing to stories about children leaving the nest to move in on their own for the first time at university, or little ones making their way to the first day of school – in other words, appealing to emotionally-charged moments in our lives – is a great way to relate to your customers in meaningful ways, whilst also being able to promote your products or services without seeming out of place.


Many beauty, fashion & lifestyle YouTube influencers have come under public scrutiny in recent years for hopping on the #BacktoSchool wagon. Social media personalities who completed their education a while ago and are seen to recreate the ‘trendy’ school look have been dubbed as artificial and unrepresentative of current school regulations.

Similarly, well-established cosmetics brands have also been publicly called out for inaccurately linking their products to the #BacktoSchool trend, with critics questioning the morality of promoting makeup to schoolgirls.

Whilst influencer marketing is often seen as the golden ticket to massive engagement, not knowing which social media personalities to go to for in your campaign can be a faux-pas that costs millions.

Why not try a family blogger or student that’s currently at university and getting them to try out some products either at home or instore? Sometimes scaling down and looking for hyperlocal influencers with engaged audiences can make the world of difference.


If, after you’ve checked all of the above, you’re still unsure as to how you might link your campaign to #BacktoSchool, then there is one last trick you can pull.

September is generally known as a time for ‘new beginnings’ due to its academic ties so why not use this as your narrative? Whether you’re launching a brand-new product or you’ve got the essentials for going back to school nailed, crafting a story around this time of year can be beneficial as a promotional tool but also for getting an audience onboard that may be ready for a change in path.

O Communications is a creative communications agency based in Newcastle. If you’re looking for some strategic advice on creating a campaign that’ll get people talking, drop us an email on