Each retail season presents a new challenge - how can Old Navy stand out during the critical back-to-school shopping season.
We needed to create a program that would make Old Navy the preferred destination for both kids (and moms) wanting to get the latest in back-to-school fashion.
Back to school shopping has changed dramatically, with competitors jump-starting the retail season as early as July. School clothes are becoming a lower priority and kids (instead of moms) are making a lot more of the decisions.
But whilst competitors were all chasing the latest popular young YouTubers to get kids attention, we focused on a different group of influencers.
Influencers who build minds, not Instagram followers.
We set out to stand out - building a cultural groundswell of support from kids, moms and communities to highlight one of the most important, yet unsung, heroes of America’s youth: the teachers who inspire their student learners into leaders.
Inspired by the popularity of Chicago teacher Dwayne Reed’s viral music hit ‘Welcome to the 4th Grade’ (viewed 1.6m times on YouTube to date) we created an entirely new kind of branded content campaign that would not only cut through the back to school chaos, but also support Old Navy’s ONward! CSR initiative with Boys and Girls Club (a national organization which helps children from under-privileged backgrounds reach their potential).
We capitalized on the popularity of the Dwayne Reed video: kids seemingly loved the collision of teachers and music.
So, we created engaging music content with these uncelebrated heroes to help Old Navy to stand for a higher mission and emotionally connect with both kids and moms.
Wary of the cynicism that could come from “another brand doing something worthy to sell things,” we set out to keep the campaign content true to the teachers and make all of our paid media feel organic.
Meanwhile, Old Navy’s ONward! launch also initiated a customer donation drive to benefit Boys & Girls Clubs, where Old Navy would match customer donations.
To do this, we’d give teachers the rock star status they deserve.
We partnered with iamOTHER, Pharrell Williams’ creative collective, to showcase amazing teachers in a series of eight custom-music videos, featuring teachers and students rocking out in Old Navy clothes.
To guarantee authenticity, each teacher collaborated with a songwriter creating an original song of what was important to them. These songs were compiled and released as an album called “ONward!,” the same name as Old Navy’s Boys and Girls Club cause marketing initiative.
To deliver the campaign, we created an owned and earned media system where the music was authentically released through the teachers first, and then in the media through their stories and videos (not “ads”). It was only AFTER this that Old Navy amplified the campaign:
- Teachers released their videos on their own social media
- Teachers’ stories and videos then featured on viral content site Upworthy
- All songs were released as an album on Spotify and played in every Old Navy store
- The music videos were played on Vevo
- UGC content of teens’ versions of the songs were created across Musical.ly
- An on-air integration of one of the teachers and kids ran on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Content was promoted across Old Navy social channels and PR.
We delivered more than 1BN back-to-school impressions, the music videos achieved 25m views. Our digital media drove more than 750k visitors to the Old Navy ecommerce site.
And all of this was delivered by a media agency and a single content partner. No advertising agency was involved.