Kohl’s Tops Back-to-School Ad Class

As the annual back-to-school advertising battle rages on, an ad from department store Kohl’s has scored the highest grade among a group of 30 new TV spots (breaking between July 9 and Aug. 13) from national retailers pitching students and parents, according to ad effectiveness tracker Ace Metrix.

Kohl’s was the only marketer with two ads in Ace’s top 10, including the top spot, “Vote for Your School,” in which the marketer promoted a tie-in contest with social marketing site Facebook. The ad garnered an overall Ace score of 614 (out of a possible 950). A second Kohl’s ad placed eighth (with a score of 529) and promoted a weekend sale.

Ace Metrix analyzes the creative effectiveness of TV commercials. Its proprietary software provides near-real-time reports on TV spots across all major categories, based on the impressions of a nationally representative sample of 500 consumers. The system evaluates variables such as persuasiveness and likeability across an array of demographic and geographic targets, but also asks panelists to provide their personal impressions of spots.

The average Ace Score for the 30 back-to-school ads was 481. By comparison, the average Ace score for all national advertising is 532.

Target was the most prolific back-to-school advertiser, accounting for 13 of the 30 new ads tracked by Ace, including 10 that rounded out the list and ranked 21 through 30. And like Kohl’s top ranked ad, Target’s 30th-ranked effort included a tie-in with Facebook.

But, according to Peter Daboll, CEO at Ace Metrix, “just having a Facebook tie-in does not guarantee success with consumers.”

The difference, he said, might have been Kohl’s “do-good” approach to its Facebook campaign where the retailer awarded $500,000 cash prizes to the highest vote-getting schools at a time when public education budgets are under pressure. “We continue to see ‘do-good’ creative resonating strongly with consumers and Kohl’s clearly evoked this sentiment with their ‘Vote for Your School’ campaign,” he said.

Ace’s top-10 back-to school ads are Kohl’s “Vote for Your School,” with a score of 614;  Best Buy’s “Mom and Son Disagree,” 574; Target’s “Small Space Solutions,” 570; Staples’ “Back-to-School List,” 566; Office Max  “Child as Astronaut,” 551; Office Depot’s “Sony Notebooks,” 535; JC Penny’s “Students Pose,” 532; Kohl’s “Big Weekend Sale,” 529; Macy’s “Style on Your Terms,” 524; WalMart’s  “Lightning Bugs,” 524.