JanSport Campaign Goes For Honest Gen Z Laughs

Forget about aspirational imagery and upbeat messaging. JanSport is unleashing a back-to-school campaign that it hopes will win Gen Z over with lousy singing, unfiltered feelings, and a strong dose of “everydayness.”

Themed “Always With You,” the new ads are the first from agency Party Land, which won the account last year. They tap the irreverent tone beloved by high school and college-aged consumers.

The social-first effort builds on the TikTok trend of untalented singers belting out weirdly specific anthems. Some are glad their backpack buffers them from subway sneezers. Others hope their backpack isn’t judging them when they text while on the toilet. “Why are we on a hike that we both don’t wanna be on?” croons another.



The new ads are “a reflection of our purpose, to be an ally throughout life's adventures,” says Alex Reveles, JanSport’s vice president of global brand. “We target consumers between the ages of 14 and 22, and a lot goes on then -- a lot of life's first. It’s good, bad, awkward, and messy. We wanted to capture this essence of authentic Gen Z moments in a humorous, relatable and sharable way.”

Reveles tells Marketing Daily the hope is that the brand’s core audience will like the ads well enough to share them, noting that 78% of Gen Z say they are more likely to share ads they find funny, and 61% say brands using humor are more trustworthy.

The “Always With You” campaign runs nationwide on social and digital platforms, including TikTok and YouTube. It also includes outdoor ads in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Denver, and other major markets.

The goal is to keep JanSport top-of-mind throughout the back-to-school shopping season, and it will carefully watch engagement metrics around the videos.

“We want our customers to know we are always with them, through the good, the bad, the ugly and the weird,” she says.

She declined to say how much the company is spending on the campaign but confirmed it is the biggest push of the year. And while back-to-school shopping peaks vary widely by age and geography, “historically, the last two weeks of July and first two weeks of August are our biggest.”

JanSport bags have a lifetime warranty, so some customers use one pack forever. But fashion counts, and trends play a major part in back-to-school shopping, whether it’s the passion for bows currently fueling TikTok’s coquette trend or a new appreciation for corduroy.

JanSport is owned by Denver-based apparel giant VF Corp., which also owns the North Face and Vans. Last year, the company announced it would seek a buyer for its backpack brands, which include JanSport, the No. 1 backpack brand in the U.S., along with Eastpak and Kipling.

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