See the Spot

Holiday TV Push Starts Two Weeks Earlier At Toys 'R' Us

Unsuspecting Busload of Kids Surprised with Visit to Store in First Spot

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Toys "R" Us is looking to bring a bit more emotion to its holiday campaign this year.

A year ago the brand's campaign leaned heavily on more promotional messages, like its price match guarantee, free layaway and "door buster" deals. "We've tried to find a better balance between the rational reasons to come to Toys 'R' Us and the emotional reasons to come," said Peter Reiner, senior VP-marketing at the retailer.

The campaign features a group of school kids who are told they're going on a field trip to "Meet the Trees." Ranger Brad quizzes a bus full of bored looking kids about types of leaves, before removing his khaki uniform to reveal a red Toys "R" Us shirt. He announces the bus is actually headed to Toys "R" Us where the kids will be able to pick out any toy they want. Predictably, the kids go bonkers and cuteness ensues as they storm the store.

Mr. Reiner also called this year's media buy a "higher quality plan" than a year ago, noting Toys "R" Us is kicking off with a strong TV buy two weeks earlier than a year ago. The retailer plans to simultaneously air 60-second, 30-second and 15-second spots, in addition to a 90-second online video. The company has also layered in more digital elements, with home page takeovers and social activity around the hashtag #WishinAccomplished. Toys "R" Us works with Escape Pod, Chicago.

Toys "R" Us spends about $90 million annually during the fourth quarter, though Mr. Reiner declined to comment on how the more robust TV buy would impact that figure. He also acknowledged that the season has become longer and more spread out in recent years, though he said that doesn't necessarily pose a challenge.

"For us it's about building a relationship with the consumer throughout the holiday season. It's important to begin that early, and we continue through the end of the holidays. It's really a September to December plan," Mr. Reiner said. "The consumer will come back to us more than once. We have to make sure we're not just talking to them for an eight-week period."

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