Pharrell Williams Powers Old Navy’s 2017 Back to School Musical


Old Navy back-to-school ONward! campaign

With back-to-school season approaching, retail brands are putting out some of their most creative content in preparation for the upcoming shopping stir. After all, the advertising campaigns that go behind each denim jacket, new pair of sneakers and multi-colored backpack, are a culmination of months of comprehensive brainstorming and planning.

Well-known American clothing company, Old Navy, based out of San Francisco, creates original content year after year, consistently leading the pack amidst the country’s annual back-to-school retail rush.

The Gap Inc.-owned family friendly-clothier set a high bar with its  2014 back-to-school campaign, “Unlimited” — a four-minute musical video featuring YouTube creators such as Miranda Sings inspiring kids to think big and overcome their fears.

In a philanthropic tie-in, the brand partnered with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to release the Unlimited song on iTunes at 99 cents per download, donating to the organization with each click. (In a partnership that has lasted more than a decade, Old Navy has raised more than $10 million for BGCA.)

Notching almost 1.2 million YouTube views within twenty-four hours of the video’s release, the brand triumphed in the back-to-school race while raising money for a worthy cause.

Complimenting the campaign, the brand’s tie-in with comedian Amy Poehler:

Its 2015 back-to-school campaign attempted to recapture the glory with another musical, adding a hashtag to become #Unlimited:

Last year, Old Navy reprised its YouTuber (via AwesomenessTV) and Boys and Girls Clubs tie-ins for back-to-school campaign, dubbed #MySquadContest.

Supporting its back-to-school campaign, Old Navy produced this TV spot with Amy Schumer:

This year, the brand is trying to recapture the success of its 2014 BTS high-water mark by turning teachers into rock stars with its new campaign, “ONward!” (“ON” a nod to its acronym.) The ONward! platform is the brand’s way of paying it forward.

The brand’s just-released back to school platform features eight original songs with corresponding videos, each one showcasing real American teachers, who are all outfitted in Old Navy’s 2017 back-to-school collection while accompanied by Boys & Girls Club participants as back-up dancers.

“At Old Navy, we believe in big dreams and bigger opportunities for the next generation,” the brand posted on its website along with the campaign’s launch. “Empowering them to push past the impossible… We can’t wait to see where they’ll take us.”

To elevate the creative, Old Navy partnered with Pharrell Williams’ creative collective, i am OTHER, which helped with the songwriting and recording process. The lead music producer on the project was none other than Darius Scott, a top 20 Finalist from Pharrell Williams’ team on NBC’s The Voice in 2015.

Old Navy is going a step further this year with its musical campaign, which is aimed to inspire opportunity for the next generation. By partnering with BGCA and its Canadian counterpart, Old Navy is sponsoring a fundraising campaign along with the fun online content. With a $1 million fundraising goal, the brand is raising money in stores for the nonprofit, and then matching all in-store customer donations up to $350,000.

Old Navy has tried similar fundraising strategies in previous back-to-school seasons, but with its partnership with i am OTHER, the brand is hoping for a hit that surpasses its past successes.

In fact, Old Navy has donated over $10 million to support the cause in the past. The brand’s partnership with BGCA actually began over a decade ago, as the two companies aligned on their mission to turn learners into leaders by inspiring millennials through leadership skills, kids’ safety and professional training.

Donations for the cause are being collected upon checkout at all Old Navy stores from July 27th through August 7th, and the Onward! videos are available on Old Navy’s YouTube page at


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