The 10 Cleverest Back-to-School Promos

It’s back-to-school season, and retailers are foaming at the mouth to capture customers as they load up on school supplies, clothes, and dorm goodies for the school year. Naturally, it’s also the season of funny, incredible, sometimes goofy back-to-school promos, and we love looking back at some of the most entertaining of these. We’ve explored 10 of the most clever back-to-school promos we’ve seen, from ones clearly designed to win parents over, to pop culture references for kids, and even a few documenting anxiety-inducing moments. Read on, and you’ll find our favorite picks for clever back-to-school promos.

  1. Staples celebrates back-to-school:

    Leave it to Staples to say what just about every parent is thinking: Thank goodness it’s back-to-school season! This commercial has a father prancing around Staples like it’s Parent Christmas, clearly excited that it’s time for summer fun to be over. Students aren’t likely to appreciate this promo, but we’re sure it has been a hit with parents, who ultimately hold the purse strings for back-to-school decisions.

  2. Alice Cooper’s answer:

    Another Staples back-to-school commercial that’s clearly designed for parents, this commercial features Alice Cooper and his most famous single from 1973, School’s Out. A little girl, clearly disappointed in Cooper’s promise of “school’s out forever” not coming true, confronts him in the store. He corrects her, asserting that he never said such a thing, only that “school’s out for summer.” We’re pretty sure this little girl is not really familiar with Alice Cooper’s work in real life, but nonetheless, this commercial is a clever way to get the attention of back-to-school parents with a love for 70’s rock.

  3. Target’s denim music teacher:

    This denim-obsessed music teacher (who is not wearing any visible denim) is just weird enough to catch the attention and admiration of both parents and kids alike. His terribly catchy tune celebrating denim, and plenty of other back-to-school attire is a fun reminder to head to Target and stock up for the school year. Also a fun part of this back-to-school commercial series: the glitter-obsessed 2nd grade teacher.

  4. Buttershoes:

    This back-to-school shoes promo toes the line between clever and offensive, but nonetheless proves to be entertaining and engaging as students judge young womens’ attractiveness based on their shoe fashions. Our favorite part? One young man’s declaration that a girl is a “Buttershoes,” as in, everything’s attractive “but her shoes.”

  5. I’ve got your back:

    Like the borderline-crazy Target teachers, Best Buy’s back-to-school commercial wins clever points for being completely off the wall. In this commercial, college students go about their day on campus carrying Best Buy employees on their backs, obviously playing on the promo’s slogan, “I’ve got your back.” It’s a goofy way to get a great sales point across: Best Buy’s products and support will be there for you in college.

  6. Breakfast club:

    JCPenney likes to make a big deal about back-to-school, with commercials including a rogue school photo shoot, and a lunchroom runway. But perhaps the most impressive back-to-school promo we’ve seen from the retailer is one that pays homage to a high school classic movie: The Breakfast Club. Complete with Pixy Stix, throwback fashions, and even a totally retro run through the hallway, this commercial has parents and kids alike looking forward to the start of the school year.

  7. School is coming:

    Back-to-school can be a major source of anxiety for school-bound families, and this fun promo from Old Navy touches on that anxiety in a terribly hilarious way. This Jaws-themed back-to-school commercial highlights the deadly terror of the end of summer as a vacationing soon-to-be-student is taken down by lockers lurking at the beach in a shark-inspired scene.

  8. Zombie fashion:

    Another promo that hits on the terror of back-to-school, JCPenney’s fashion zombies commercial is spot on. Students are attacked on campus by clothes zombies until they’re finally cornered and transformed into more fashionable versions of themselves with all-new duds, and then go on about their day as if they weren’t bothered at all. We just love this one for incorporating a fun pop culture fad with back to school fashion anxiety in a surprisingly light and funny way.

  9. Your kids will never get excited about school supplies:

    Let’s get real, kids do not really care that much about back-to-school supplies, and discount retailer Meijer knows it. This commercial from Meijer dryly reminds parents of the fact that kids are not likely to be falling all over themselves with enthusiasm for their new supplies, so it’s a great opportunity to save money. Meijer cleverly reminds parents that they can pay less at their store, and it’s likely their kids will never even notice, much less care. We’re betting kids don’t even notice this commercial, but parents everywhere can be found shaking their heads with an agreeing nod.

  10. Magic wand:

    Scotch brings the magic of creativity to this back-to-school commercial, turning one young girl’s purple glue stick into an imaginary magic wand. It’s a simple, but fun way to get kids who might otherwise not have any opinions about school supplies excited about a specific brand and all of the possibilities that it offers for their artistic projects. Another great promo in this series shares a boy who was able to save his doomed presentation with the help of a little Scotch “magic” tape.