Posted by: Nathan | July 27, 2007

Back to School? Now?!

We all know that advertisers get ahead of themselves (and everyone else) all the time. Christmas is the classic example; Halloween hasn’t come when I begin to see wreaths and lights, and come November 1, it’s Christmas commercials for two months. This also happens to lesser degrees with Valentine’s and Independence Day, but Back to School?

As a kid, I always hated seeing Back to School commercials because it meant the glorious days of summer were coming to a close. Suddenly, notebooks and backpacks hung over my head with a dreadful sense of inevitability. However, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such commercials prior to the beginning of August, and no one ever should.

But this year I saw my first Back to School commercial on July 15!! No one is even close to returning to school yet. Give us a break! Sure, I grant you that some kids go to school year round (poor folks), and school calendars keep cutting summer shorter and shorter (why should kids have fun when they can be stuffed in classrooms?), but mid-July is way too early for Back to School crap.

Kids deserve long, enjoyable summers without having to think about school every time they turn on the TV (which, admittedly, is too often). This early Back to School garbage is ridiculous.

And now, just for kicks, here is what must be the advertising calendar:

January-Feb 14 = Valentine’s Day. Guilt the men, push jewelry and chocolates.

Feb 15-Easter = Easter. Lots of pastels, candy (again), and annoying bunnies.

Easter-July 4 = Indepence Day. Red, white and blue wherever you can put them, and lots of stars. Also, St. Patty’s day gets thrown in here somewhere.

July4-September 1 = Back to School. Pens, papers, backpacks, and the unshakeable knowledge of impending doom.

September-October 31 = Halloween. As many costumes and (surprise!) candy as possible, accompanied by annoying CNN reports of how 2 people in the entire universe poison candy, which is enough to scare parents to death.

November 1-December 25 = Christmas. Forget “peace on earth,” we’re talking mega mark-ups in every store and only the worst, secular holiday tunes everywhere you go. If I had to hear, “in the meadow we can build a snowman…” once more last year, I was going to go mad. Oh, and more candy.

December 25-December 31 = After Christmas sales and whatever anyone can think of to market for New Year’s.


  1. I always hated Back to School commercials as well; they’re proclamations of impending doom set to catchy music with happy, trendy kids. The message is bad enough without the delivery!
    However, I enjoy the jump start to holidays in stores (as long as we don’t skip over any holidays, such as bypassing Thanksgiving for Christmas). I love the decorations – maybe I like them more because I’d be too lazy to decorate myself. And I really love the candy. I want my M&Ms to change colors for each holiday. Aside from offering fun variety, it makes me feel festive (when all I’m doing is sitting on the couch eating chocolate). Ah, candy! All the tension that was building when I thought of going back to school melts away when I think of holiday candy. And as you pointed out, that’s pretty much offered all year long!

  2. While doing some shopping yesterday and today, we saw Target, Wal-mart, and Staples reorganized with their special BACK TO SCHOOL sections…and those sections were full of kids and parents buying school supplies! The marketing may be starting too early, but it looks like consumers are taking advantage of it anyway.

  3. To be honest, I never really minded the back-to-school advertising. I always figured it’s coming anyway, so why try to fight it. I don’t find it as annoying or obtrusive as the holiday advertising. Perhaps most annoying is that Thanksgiving gets overtaken by the day after Thanksgiving. Bah!

  4. Truly, Thanksgiving gets hosed. In a way, though, I wonder if the dearth of advertising surrounding Turkey Day is making it more popular. It seems like many people enjoy Thanksgiving Day more than Christmas, and one can’t fault the rationale: great food, time with relatives (but not too long of time if you dislike your relatives), day off of work/school, no hype, three football games, zero cost outside of food and travel (i.e. no presents involved). Christmas is dying a slow death at the hands of over-marketing, hype, and costliness.

    Why try to fight the Back to School machine, Kyle? Summer is worth fighting for! They can take us to buy pencils, but they can never take our FREEDOM!! Okay, so they always take our freedom but still.

    JL, your point about the changing colored M&Ms is an irrefutable one. I guess I only mentioned all the candy is a pejorative way b/c of the obesity epidemic.

  5. I would like to see a survey of kids who went to a “normally” scheduled school where they receive summers off and then transferred to a year-round school where they get a few weeks off every few months to see which schooling schedule they preferred…I can see some advantages either way…that’s a pretty select sample to get info from, admittedly…

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