The next five top five retailers in terms of ad spend during the Labor Day holiday include Target, Old Navy, Staples, JCPenney, and Walmart. In our search for the next five retail brands in terms of advertising spend during the Labor Day shopping season, implemented a myriad of search tactics that resulted in us getting a half answer: we got retail brands and got an idea of the money they spent during the Labor Day holiday weekend, however, the ads were mostly geared towards back-to-school and the money we calculated was actually not just for Labor Day weekend, but lasted from August 28th to October 1st. However, we decided to include them because, from our searches, it seems that these retail companies focused more on back-to-school campaigns. We discuss our strategies in trying to find this information, lay out all calculations, and summarize our findings below. We have also placed our full findings into the attached spreadsheet.
In trying to find ad campaigns for retail companies that featured in the Labor Day shopping season, we first did a straightforward search for lists of the top ad spends on Labor Day. We also filtered our results to 2018 so that we could get the most recent results. However, we realized that many of the sources we found were already in the spreadsheet, and we couldn't find any more retail companies this way, even when we removed the 'year' filter. There was one exception, where we found a story about Nike's Colin Kaepernick ad campaign that was launched near Labor Day weekend. However, our search to prove that Nike was a top retailer in terms of ad spend around Labor Day weekend 2018 was futile, and we realized that if we had continued, it would take a very long time to search for other top companies this way. Hence, we had to change strategy.
Our next strategy was to look for fact sheets as it relates to labor day spends. Many fact sheets are on PDFs, so we looked through news sources and filtered for PDFs as well. We found some fact sheets that talked generally about ad spends, but nothing specific about specific companies and how much they spent. We did notice interesting trends in these fact sheets speaking of predictions; hence, we thought to look for predictions into ad spending for Labor Day 2019. We thought that the publisher of the predictions would have to contextualize them, which often means talking about past trends, such as certain companies increasing their ad spending year-over-year. However, this search proved futile as well, so we changed strategies.
Our next strategy was to look through ad campaign databases such as iSpot.tv, Kantar Media, Moat, and Ad Age. What we found was that even though iSpot and Moat showed ads that ran during the Labor Day holiday, they didn't have much context to them, and we found ourselves searching each company individually for ad spend, which was very inefficient. Also, Ad Age brought up many news stories that did not show anything about ad spend by different companies. However, Kantar was different, as we found a report about Wayfair and other furniture retailers spending text ad money on Labor Day. Because of this, we spent more time digging through Kantar for a better report that focused on all retailers, not just on furniture retailers. We did not have any luck with this search, but we got a lead when we started searching for "September" results instead of just "Labor Day", which showed some articles and reports about back-to-school spending among retailers. In one article, we found a list of retailers that spent big during the period of August 28th to October 1st, which naturally includes the Labor Day weekend. We declined at first to use it, especially because it was from 2017, but after repeating steps, using different strings and filters, we were still coming up empty-handed. Also, we didn't find a similar study from Kantar in 2018. We thought this back-to-school report would be better to use than the furniture retailer report, so we answered this request based on what we found here.
On on graph, the report displayed how much each retailer spent in percentages based on time periods and showed how much each spent monetarily on back-to-school ads on another chart. We used this to calculate how much they spent for the August 28 to October 1 time period, which includes the Labor Day shopping season. We discuss more of our assumptions below. The article we found focused mainly on back-to-school ad spend, but because we realized that these retailers focus more on back-to-school at this time of the year, these numbers should represent a somewhat true representation of what they spent over the Labor Day holiday.
CALCULATIONS AND ASSUMPTIONS
Staples spent 35% of their back-to-school budget on the Aug 28 - Oct 1 period. Hence, money spent during that period = $17.7 M * 35% = approx. $6.2 M. Old Navy spent 30% of their back-to-school budget on the Aug 28 - Oct 1 period. Hence, money spent during that period = $21.1 M * 30% = approx. $6.33 M. Target spent 20% of their back-to-school budget on the Aug 28 - Oct 1 period. Hence, money spent during that period = $38.4 M * 20% = approx. $7.68 M. JCPenney spent 10% of their back-to-school budget on the Aug 28 - Oct 1 period. Hence, money spent during that period = $21.3 M * 10% = approx. $2.13 M. Walmart spent 8% of their back-to-school budget on the Aug 28 - Oct 1 period. Hence, money spent during that period = $35.9 M * 8% = approx. $3.07 M.
We believe that these numbers give an idea of what the spend for the Labor Day holiday was for a variety of reasons. First, the period on the graph we looked at in the report started on August 28, a few days before the Labor Day weekend. Second, Labor Day is a strong federal holiday, and since there is no work and no school, but students are still getting ready or in the process of going back to school, it would make sense to spend the most money during that weekend. Finally, according to the "BTS Ad Spend 2016 vs 2017" chart in the report, spending was high around August 28 and dipped even more after the 4th of September, which was Labor Day. However, it still must be noted that we are only doing the best we could based on the data that we found, and should only be interpreted as an idea of how these retailers spent their money during the weekend. More details such as spend on other campaigns other than back-to-school could not be found, and we believe that paid reports on Kantar and elsewhere may have this information.
- Retailers focus more on back-to-school ads, especially during the Labor Day shopping season, as the market is worth around $75.8 billion and growing every year. Also, the back-to-school shopping season continues up until the beginning of September, which is around the time of Labor Day.
- Target's "Ready.Set.Prep!" ad campaign had 'punny' phrases that were made to catch the attention of students, such as "When we say study, you say haul!" and "What do we want? Cat Packs. When do we want them? Meow."
- Target's "Ready.Set.Prep!" campaign was so effective that they received 29% of the share of attention, which was the most for all retailers (Walmart only got 17.6%).
- Staples focused more on advertising to parents with the tagline "it's pro time."
- Walmart also ran a campaign during this time called "Many Chairs. One Table" which coincidentally came a week after the racist incident in Charlottesville.
- In 2016, JCPenney launched a new tagline "Get your Penney's worth", which they used in all 2017 back-to-school advertising.