Creating Tomorrow: Back to school – whatever your age


I don’t have my own kids, but with three stepsons aged between 7-12 who spend their weekends with us, there’s plenty of back-to-school chat at home at the moment.

I like this time of year, it’s a sort of second chance at the new beginnings promised in January – a time for new resolutions or a wiping clean of the year’s slate so far. My plans for a ‘Dry September’ to match the ‘Dry January’ I enjoyed/endured were somewhat scuppered when a friend I hadn’t seen since before the pandemic arrived clutching a bottle of champagne on Wednesday evening.

I have at least exercised every day and I’m giving myself plenty of bonus points on that front. I also celebrated the beginning of the new season by turning the heating back on – although the weather in the UK means it’s really felt like autumn for most of what should have been our summer.

For the design and marketing industries, however, back to school certainly looks somewhat different in 2020 – especially in countries where it’s still uncertain whether kids and teens are going back to school or not.

It’s been really interesting to see which brands have pulled back completely from any back-to-school messaging – whether that’s those that usually rely on sales of uniforms, stationery or just general merchandise who, in more normal years, would see an uptick in sales around now.

But perhaps more interesting has been to look at inventive brands who are flashing less cash, but still putting a more lo-fi, cautious message out into the market – with many of those coupling their campaigns with sizeable donations to aligned causes. In a year when purpose has never been more important, this manifestation of it is a positive sign of things to come.

You can read more on this, including a spotlight on brands really earning their A-grade for their particular back-to-school work, in our Campaign Trends: Back to School 2020 report. If you have any problems accessing it, just let your account manager know.

In the meantime, I’m off to download that ‘learn to speak Spanish’ app I promised myself I’d start using back on January 1.

Managing Director, WGSN

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