Toys R' US Didn't Have to Fail

A few years back, we were asked to advise Toys”R”Us on what we would do with the brand from a marketing standpoint. Since some of us are parents, we all remembered taking our kids there. Sometimes to buy something very specific and sometimes for no reason at all. The latter was their secret sauce; the experience. To me, as a dad, Toys”R”Us was my amusement park around the corner - which came with a guaranteed “good time.” Often I made a pact with the boys; here’s the budget, now go, go, go. And going they did, often running through the aisles not knowing what to look at first. Through their tiny eyes, the shelves must have looked endless and as high as the sky.

That’s what the brand forgot.

When we made our presentation and reminded them of this, they were quiet. They responded that they were in a retail war and needed retail advertising. We responded that you cannot fight internet-retail pricing, let alone Amazon’s pricing. That if you are brick and mortar, you need to use that square footage to your advantage. One idea we offered up: have a dollar section in the back of the store, so that every parent from every background can afford the experience. We told them that Amazon couldn’t match the magic of running around Toys”R”Us online. We told them they should advertise from the inside out. Their competition was weekend boredom, long drives to nowhere and the mall. Their opportunity was to rekindle that Toys”R”Us feeling inside the kids who were soon to be parents themselves. We told them.

“Hmmm, said one of the clients.”

We didn’t get the account.

PS: Since that presentation, Amazon has opened over a dozen brick and mortar book stores which also sell toys. Go figure.