Amid Back-To-School Limbo, Old Navy Encourages Young Activists

Remember when mid-July meant endless back-to-school ads? Not this year. 

Old Navy is launching a different kind of campaign, honoring young activists protesting instead of cute kids hopping on the school bus.

New ads from the Martin Agency use peppy rhymes and upbeat graphics to highlight Black Lives Matter, voting, LGBTQ rights and other issues. 

Themed "We are We," the work highlights efforts from five activists. That includes Marley Dias, a 15-year-old feminist, racial equality activist and founder of #100BlackGirlBooks, who narrates the ads.

The retailer, owned by the Gap, says it will work to amplify those young voices in the coming weeks.

Calling the spot "a departure from our traditional product and promotional commercials," a spokesperson says the ad is "an ode to our brand's pledge for equality, celebrating our differences and advocating for every voice. The spot is meant to inspire our customers, followers and viewers by highlighting some of the current galvanizing movements and inspiring voices behind them," she tells Marketing Daily via email.



Of course, where these kids will be in September is anybody's guess. With stores still reeling from the COVID-19 shutdown, it's hard to predict what impact the strange back-to-school season will have on parents' spending. 

A new study from Zulily indicates many moms are planning on back-to-school shopping, but will focus their efforts on safety, comfort and learning at home.

The moms in its research say public health is their top concern (46%) , followed by the challenges of managing online learning, at 21%. 

"Moms have a very clear idea of what fall will look like, and they're already making plans to ensure their kids are safe, comfortable and successful while potentially still learning from home," says Lindsay Reynolds, Zulily's family shopping and trend expert.

Moms are also focused on making home a more productive classroom substitute. Some 73% have designated workspaces for kids at home, and 23% want to improve it in the weeks ahead.

They're also feeling financial pressure, with 30% saying they’re more concerned about spending this year than last. 

Target is also aware of those money worries. Its early back-to-school ads are stressing value, with a "Supplies starting at 50 cents" message.

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