Remember the old days when August would come around and those pesky back-to-school commercials would appear? It was an easy reminder that the fun days of summer were almost over and that you would have to pretend to understand chemistry again. As a 2012 college graduate it has been somewhat sad and ironic watching all these back-to-school commercials and realizing that those days of sleeping through Calculus class have come and gone.
When thinking about not going back to school initially I was sad, but after a couple weeks anger took hold. Anger at what, you ask? These stupid back-to-school commercials. Not an anger arising out of this signaling of the end of summer; no, this anger was geared towards the idiotic content of the commercials. Studies are undertaken and people get paid to come up with ideas to induce children into spending money on items that they do not need to be maximally prepared for school. While this is true in every industry, we decided that now might be a good time to look back on some of the worst offenders in recent memory.
Spoil Alert: Target is the fucking worst.
The 1st and 2nd award for worst commercial goes to our favorite discount store, Target. I guess Target decided this year that cheesy ’90s jingles were the way to go. First a “music” teacher addresses’ parents about what their children will need for his class. (Hint: none of the shit has to do with music.) He goes into a simple jingle about backpacks and denim. Some of my favorite lines have to be “backpacks to put their stuff in” and “graphic tees and denim, denim, denim, denim, (pause) backpacks.”
If that is the extent of his music knowledge I do not want him teaching my kids. The bigwigs at Target really couldn’t think of anything else to put in at the end? We get it — you are selling backpacks and denim. As an economics major I even took a class that emphasized that a successful commercial is just something that says the same thing over and over again. I know I am not their target demographic, but really, Target? You could not come up with something better than that?
Not to kick a dead horse, but Target must have cut the creative budget this year. This one stars an “English” teacher and ironically enough has more kids playing instruments than the last. My favorite line is when the English teacher says, “This is what the kids will N-E-E-D.” Difficult word to spell. The commercial then goes into a jingle about pens. This is even degrading to 5 year-olds. They can spell “need.”
There is a third terrible commercial about science that if you really want to watch you can find here.
While we can stay on the topic of terrible Target commercials (trust me, in my research I almost changed this article entirely), they are not the only ones to blame. Provocateur of all things graphic tees, JC Penny decided to air this throwback to the classic film “The Breakfast Club,” only nobody got it. Like, nobody. It makes no sense and stereotypes the hell out of going back to school. A rebel girl wearing a Nirvana shirt and a hot guy are just a few stereotypes that make America seem oppressively bland.
Not to leave Kmart out of the mix (I thought they went into bankruptcy like 6 years ago), they decided to also use “We Got the Beat.” Now I know how The Go Go’s are still making money — back to school commercials. This one has cute stereotypical children talking about how excited they are to go back to school and get some new jeans. What 12 year-old boy is excited to get some new jeans?
As if the fact that a lot of the really bad ones from years past were taken down from YouTube were not proof enough that they suck, these commercials continue to “out-dumb” their predecessors. While Target easily takes the cake this year, other commercials are not much more creative.
We get it, denim, backpack, graphic tees. As we reported earlier, malls could possibly be a thing of the past, and this might be because there is nothing that differentiates any of these stores. If you were in the middle of a store, could you really tell the difference between a JC Penny and a Macy’s? A Target or a WalMart?
Obviously, I am more closely scrutinizing these commercials than most will. But people get paid for this shit. Get creative. Stop undervaluing the IQ of the average child and please stop stereotyping.
Happy 1st day of school y’all.
Follow Kevin @kpcamps.