Foot Locker Finds Branded Video Success Going Back To School

It's that time of year…back to school! While not as flashy as the Super Bowl, World Cup, or Holiday, the back-to-school season is important for many brands -- apparel brands, retailers, and CPGs, in particular. And one of the most prolific advertisers during the back-to-school season is Foot Locker.

Last year, Foot Locker released six campaigns in August to capitalize on back-to-school shopping. This month alone, it has already released three campaigns with multiple assets, and it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down.

The most popular -- Short Memory featuring James Harden -- was released on August 5. In the first spot, NBA legend Charles Barkley advises Harden of the Houston Rockets that to get by in the NBA he needs to have a short memory. Taking his own advice, Barkley pretends to have no memory of the lower moments of his career, while Scottie Pippen chimes in that he’s the greatest Bulls player ever, to great comedic effect.

The newest ad, released last week, again features Harden. This time, he’s talking to Landon Donovan about the summer. As they talk it becomes clear that Donovan has no memory of being cut from the US National Soccer Team before the World Cup. Proving what a sense of humor he has, he insists that they would never cut the captain.

A little more than two weeks after its release, Short Memory has garnered 7.7 million views. But what’s so impressive about Foot Locker isn’t the viewership of one campaign; it’s the consistency with which its campaigns perform.

With 28 campaigns that Foot Locker has released over the past two years, it has generated 81.9 million views. That’s an average of 3 million views per campaign -- higher than the average viewership across all branded video of 2 million. And in a branded video universe where only 1 in 3 campaigns reach 1 million views, more than 85% of Foot Locker’s campaigns have surpassed that level of viewership.

There are several thing that have contributed to Foot Locker’s success:

Consistent Voice

Foot Locker is a retailer that carries a number of different brands. It creates ads with adidas and it creates ads with Nike. But no matter what products are featured in its ads, there is a clear look, feel, and humor to their ads that are uniquely Foot Locker.

Celebrities and Self-Deprecating Humor

It’s no secret that celebrities drive viewership. They create buzz and they bring with them their own fans that will talk about and share the videos. Foot Locker has done an amazing job of finding athletes -- mostly NBA players -- to star in multiple campaigns for the brand.

More importantly, however, is that Foot Locker has found athletes that have a sense of humor and don’t mind making fun of themselves. Seeing a famous basketball player or soccer player be humble enough to make fun of themselves is surprising. That surprise makes it newsworthy enough that viewers will want to share it with their friends.


While Foot Locker releases content throughout the year, the majority of its content is released in two key periods: the back-to-school season and the holiday season. Last year, the brand released six campaigns in August and another six between November and early December. That’s 12 of its 16 campaigns during the year. By releasing multiple campaigns in a short period of time, Foot Locker puts its stamp on these key shopping periods.


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