JanSport #LIGHTENTHELOAD Creating Connections in Times of Uncertainty

Rakuten Advertising launched a YouTube campaign for leading designer and maker of backpacks and apparel, JanSport, and had view-through rate of 21%, significantly higher than the industry standard.


Overall Impressions


View-through Rate


Relative Brand Lift for Awareness


Relative Brand Lift for Ad Recall

About the Brand

Since 1967, JanSport has designed packs, bags, and outdoor gear to equip its customers for great adventures and everyday use. They are committed to making durable, functional, and versatile products that customers can count on. Whether you’re going out with friends, have a long day on campus, or plan to explore the great outdoors, JanSport has your back.

The Story

In May 2020, JanSport launched #LIGHTENTHELOAD, a mission to connect people with resources to tackle the mental health crisis. 2020 was an eye-opening year and highlighted the importance of mental health for everyone, but especially for Gen Z (born between 1997 and 2015). JanSport knew its message needed to be heard, especially by the younger generation. The message was consistent throughout: improve human connection and remind people they are not alone.

The Goal

JanSport wanted to reach out and create an authentic connection with this younger generation to help them cope with the uncertainty of the global pandemic. The two main goals of the campaign were to:

  1. Drive awareness of the importance of mental health.  
  2. Drive awareness and interest in the JanSport brand.  


Rakuten Advertising helped JanSport create innovative marketing materials in addition to their existing campaigns. This strategy focused on:


Reaching the target demographic (18-24-year-olds)


Analyzing social media platforms to find where their audience consumed media


Finding keywords that resonated with their audience, including backpacks and meditation

The Process

Partnering with Rakuten Advertising, JanSport launched the #LIGHTENTHELOAD TrueView YouTube video campaign and targeted it at 18-24-year-olds.

Rakuten Advertising made strategic recommendations to achieve optimal performance through:

Ad Formats

Creating different ad formats including TrueView for reach and action, skippable, and bumper ads

Ad Units

Creating two ad units to conduct additional test elements

The videos showed people from a variety of demographics speaking in their own words about their struggles. The footage was moving and reminded the Gen Z audience that they are not alone.


The overall campaign produced results that surpassed expectations, including:

Brand Awareness

This campaign drove over 40M overall impressions during the school year—a key retail period for JanSport.

21% Total VTR

The launch of this campaign created a 21.5% view-through rate, which is significantly higher than the industry average.

20% Brand Lift

The YouTube ad series provided a 20% relative brand lift for ad recall, leading to a 7.5% increase in brand awareness.

YouTube Visits

On average, users who visited JanSport from YouTube spent 3.85 minutes on site versus an average site total of 3.14 minutes.

Key Learnings

YouTube is a proven platform for reaching the Gen Z and below age bracket.

Creating advertisements that incorporate a human element increase brand lift and ad recall.