Supplies for Students is a year-long initiative that provides students of all ages with a promising start to the school year. With back-to-school in full force and extra effort welcome, White Oaks Mall (London, Canada) joined the campaign for its peak period. Demonstrating its community roots and strong local partnerships, the center offered to collect school supplies and backpacks to help students prepare before returning to class. Relying on shoppers to fill backpacks, the donated goods were then distributed across both the Thames Valley District School Board and the London District Catholic School Board.

Branding its contribution to the initiative as “All the Back-to-School Feels”, the shopping mall set up a giant backpack in-center on August 16. With fall just around the corner, shoppers were encouraged to donate school-related materials. In return, the first 200 people to do so received a grab bag of their own.

“To kick off customer participation, White Oaks Mall purchased sports bags, filling 200 of them with retailer coupons, $5 [mall] gift cards, product samples, retailer gift cards, and more,” noted Barbara Costello, marketing director.

With close to two-dozen retailers getting in on the action, everything from clothing and accessories to snacks were available. White Oaks staff encouraged retailer participation by first reaching out in person at the store level and via a merchant memo, and second by corresponding with the retailers’ head offices—a full list of participating retailers was posted online.

The back-to-school initiative ended with the handing out of all grab bags and the filling of the drop box to the brim.

“Our digital platforms play a critical role in all of our mall advertising, brand, or event specific. Our brand advertising tagline

is ‘Happy Shopping,’ which communicates the experience shoppers can expect when they visit White Oaks,” Costello added.

Building on this as a starting point, the center used the advertising ‘Give a little, get a lot’ tagline—stressing the importance of people making others happy—to frame its backpack drive.

Supplies for Students is a joint, volunteer-based initiative from Thames Valley District School Board Foundation, United Way’s GenNext, and the Salvation Army.

Media Mix & Impact

  • E-mail: 2,976 reach and 38-percent open rate
  • Facebook: 9,024 reach
  • Gift card redemption rate to date: 40 percent
  • Radio
  • Twitter
  • Website traffic: 17,624 sessions