Well, it’s time to go back to school again. And you know how I know? Because of television commercials, which give me all the information I need on what it takes to be a cool kid these days. (Hint: channel your favorite High School Musical Version of Glee character, then press fast forward.)
For example, the above Kmart ad lets us old folks know that kids these days like dancing, singing, rewriting Go-Go’s lyrics, and dressing extras in a John Hughes movie—complete with faux neckties, floppy hats, and sweater vests. Oh, and they like moving fast. Really fast. It’s cool, OK? Case in point:
So this Macy’s ad is pretty much exactly the same as the Kmart one, except the school in this case is in the future (you can tell because everything is white and modern-looking). I don’t have kids and I’m too old to be targeted in this ad, so someone help me out here. Is being a kid today all about pretending you’re in an 80s cover band? No, it’s not all about that, because sometimes you have to be a pop star, hanging outside with your friends in the grass… acting sexy in a way that makes adult bloggers (hi, that’s me) uncomfortable. Like in this, other Kmart back-to-school ad:
Out of all of the back-to-school ads I’ve seen so far this season, the only outlier is this one from Target. I say it’s an outlier because it appears to be for parents instead of kids. At least, I’m guessing that’s the case because it’s a total Royal Tenenbaums redux, set to the music from Free to Be, You and Me. Hellooo appealing to people who Target thinks have young kids now:
Has anyone else noticed any back-to-school ads this season? How are they portraying young people? If you have kids (or are a kid yourself), what do you think of these commercials?
This project was made possible in part by a grant from Oregon Humanities (OH), a statewide nonprofit organization and an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which funds OH’s grant program. Any views, findings, and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Oregon Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.