It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…or is it?

The emotions surrounding back to school range from joy to sadness and back again. Parents are sad to see the end of the summer, missing their kids if they are in school all day and, most certainly, missing their grown children going off to college. Yet there’s excitement and joy surrounding that first day of kindergarten, getting the kids out of the house (and out of their parent’s’ hair!), and young adults going back to school, to their friends and to their independence. What is an advertiser to do?
Twenty years ago, yes TWENTY years ago, Staples broadcast the now iconic Back to School ad, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”.

The commercial continues to resonate every year, tongue in cheek, that parents are overly excited to get the kids back in school and out of the house. But are they? And as a brand or retail advertiser, you have to decide if you should market with humor to celebrate back to school. Or would you be better off comforting the parents who are melancholy come September?


Looking at net sentiment, the posts are neutral to positive, but there are some negative posts.
Daily Basic sentiment trend from 2016-08-04 to 2016-08-24
But what is the underlying emotion behind that sentiment? Taking a deeper dive in the Emotion Analysis for the same time period, we see that the emotions are evenly categorized as joy and sadness.
Emotion analysis trend from 2016-08-04 to 2016-08-24 (2)

What is Emotion Analysis and how does it work?

Based on the research of psychologists and anthropologists, specifically Paul Ekman, the most common base emotions across cultures are joy, sadness, disgust, anger, surprise and fear. If this reminds you of a certain Pixar movie, you’re not alone. We collected over two million tweets with emotional hashtags and trained our model to predict the emotion based on the remaining text of those tweets. We also collected many synonyms of the basic six emotions along with grammatical variations of those synonyms. Those range in intensity for each category from mild to extreme, and all of the synonyms were collapsed to the same emotion label to encapsulate the entire range of intensities.


September does bring feeling of sadness and joy. You can’t go wrong with either sentiment in advertising. The challenge would be to portray both in a single campaign.
Now, please excuse me as I go skipping down the school supply aisle.

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