Four tips for creating A+ back-to-school ads
May 23, 2024

Back-to-school spending last year was expected to reach record levels, at $41.5 billion, up over 12% from the previous year.1 Looking ahead to this year, we’re anticipating this shopping moment will continue to grow. In a recent survey of Walmart customers, 40% of parents said they expect to spend more on standard school supplies in 2024 than they did last year.2 Customers turn to Walmart as a one-stop shopping destination and price leader for everything they need to check off on their school shopping lists, from supplies to electronics, apparel and snacks.

Last year, our suppliers showed that they truly understood the assignment, building captivating advertising that drew attention and helped drive business results. Here are some of the ads our customers loved and why they resonated with their back-to-class mindsets:  


Inspire creativity.

The makers of SKIPPY® Peanut Butter and Nature’s Own® Bread sparked the imaginations and appetites of back-to-class shoppers with this eye-catching ad. Instead of focusing on their product packaging, they showcased delicious and relevant recipes. This unique approach to ad creative helped Walmart customers imagine how they could use the product and how it could support their back-to-school needs. Walmart customers said they loved seeing the "different possibilities" and "interesting ideas for kids' lunches or snacks" in this ad.3

Showing recipe ideas like this can also tap into a powerful emotional response from customers. A recent study, conducted in partnership with NielsenIQ, that measured how ads triggered customers' neurological responses, showed that showing tasty food can boost emotional engagement and can help motivate customers to act.4


Kleenex also turned heads with this outside of the box approach to ad creative, demonstrating how their product can be used in an unexpected, yet relevant way. Walmart customers loved the idea of turning tissue boxes into craft projects and described the ad as "very creative," "interesting" and "fun."

As you consider your creative approach to back-to-school advertising this year, explore different inventive ways to showcase how your products can support the needs of Walmart customers – whether that’s helping them at snack time, play time, or study time.


Keep it simple.

When an ad is too complex and confusing, the memorability and relevance of that ad tends to drop drastically. In a recent study that evaluated customer reactions to Walmart Connect ads, we saw that ads with clear, simple messaging that connects to the visual can help to facilitate easy processing and boost relevance.4

In this example, Crayola gets high marks for reinforcing the benefit of these markers as "ultra-clean" and "washable" in both the visual and the copy. When Walmart customers saw this ad, they said that simple message resonated with them, with one customer noting that "the prominent washable aspect immediately caught my attention!"3

When crafting your back-to-school ads, focus on one key message or benefit, and make sure that the copy and imagery work to complement each other and reinforce that singular message. 


Lean into the moment. 

Tailoring your creative to the moment can help grab the attention of your intended audience and increase the resonance of your messaging. This ad from HyperX effectively uses the ad copy and visuals to align their brand and products seamlessly with the back-to-school/college moment. Walmart customers described this ad as "easy to relate to," "persuasive" and "motivating."3 Consider how your ads can lean into the moment, from including relevant lifestyle imagery that adds helpful context to crafting copy that speaks directly to back-to-school shoppers.


Make your product pop. 

In a crowded digital environment, advertisers only have a few seconds to make an impression – using clear, simple product imagery can help. Customers want to be able to quickly understand what your ad is for and to clearly see the product they are considering.  In a recent survey, Walmart customers said that ads featuring the product as the hero were more likely to drive purchase intent.5 We’ve also seen that using high contrast can be an effective tool to make your product stand out. Our research shows that high contrast in ads can help customers more easily focus on and process each creative element.4

This ad from Danimals and Uncrustables gets an A+ for giving their products prominence by using placement and color contrast. Walmart customers described this ad as "eye-catching" and "attractive." They also referenced the color choices as something they liked about this ad.3


Similarly, this Acer ad is a lesson in making the product the hero. Walmart customers also described this ad as "eye-catching," said the colors were "inviting," and commented on how they liked being able to clearly see the product.3

When selecting imagery for your back-to-school ads, keep the product front and center and consider high contrast background colors that can help your product pop.

This content is brought to you by Lightbox Creative, the in-house creative team that helps suppliers drive business results with Walmart Connect’s retail media solutions through best-in-class creative. Learn more about Lightbox Creative and their mission here.

Sources: 1 First-Party Data, Walmart Customer Spark Community, Back-to-School & College 2024 Seasonal Survey, provided by Walmart Luminate, April 2024; 3Walmart First-Party Data, Walmart Customer Spark Community, Back-to-School & College 2024 Creative Survey provided by Walmart Luminate, March 2024; 4NielsenIQ BASES, Creative Neuro-research, November 2023; 5Walmart First-Party Data, Walmart Customer Spark Community, Wave 5 Creative Survey, provided by Walmart Luminate, April 2023. 

No Endorsement of 3rd Party Data Sources.


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