DeVito/Verdi Parodies Back-to-School Joys

NEW YORK In its first work for Midwest retail chain Meijer’s Department Stores, DeVito/Verdi asks consumers to “trust us, you don’t want to spend a lot on school supplies.”

In one of two 15-second TV spots, viewers see schoolchildren balling up costly notebook paper and hurling it at each other. In another commercial, a boy sticks two brand-new pencils up his nostrils to the disgust of the girl sitting next to him.

The shop also has created a 30-second TV spot that shows a mom returning home with two Meijer’s bags filled with school supplies. Her children rush to the front door to meet her, ecstatic at the sight of glue, pencils and a ruler.

Onscreen copy declares the scene “a dramatization,” informing viewers that these are actors who are paid to react with enthusiasm. “Your kids will never get this excited about school supplies,” copy reads. “So why pay more than you have to?”

“Many times you see in retail commercials kids getting so excited about these products,” said Ellis Verdi, president of the New York shop. “So what we did is really push it over the top.”

While kids in ads are often overjoyed at the sight of a blue notebook, real kids are none too enthused about the back-to-school season, Verdi said. In the agency’s parody, these spots add “a degree of honesty.”

All three spots end with the client’s back-to-school tagline, “We get high marks for low prices.” The campaign will run in major Midwest markets. Radio is also a component.

A new tagline will likely accompany any new, non-seasonal work, Verdi said.

This is the first work from the shop since it won the Meijer’s account in April. Spending was not disclosed, but the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer spent $30 million on ads in 2002, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.