Toys R Us Recruits 'Random' Social Santas


In addition to extending its free layaway program through Dec. 16, Toys R Us is throwing in a social-media twist: It’s looking for some random acts of generosity along the way.

Last year, a spokesperson for the Wayne, N.J.-based retailer says, it was inspired by stories of people paying off layaway balances for strangers. This year, it’s asking for more of those random acts of kindness, and every time someone plays Santa Claus, it plans to donate an additional $200 worth of toys to Toys for Tots.

“In some cases, we found out about it through our store managers who witnessed these acts of kindness firsthand,” a Toys R Us spokesperson tells Marketing Daily in an email. “In others, we were made aware by media reports. We were inspired by these generous stories of people giving back to their communities, and wanted to participate in a way that would keep the good will going. Because this was a movement/effort largely spread by word of mouth last year, we felt our social media platforms would be the optimal way to share the joy of this program with our customers.”

She says the company chose the donation amount of $200 because that’s the approximate average value of a layaway order created at Toys R Us, and that donations will continue up to $1 million. While no fee is charged for the service, a 20% deposit is required for layaway, available on all items, and 50% of the total must be paid within 45 days, while the balance must be paid in full by Dec. 16. 

The chain is using Facebook and Twitter to raise awareness of the effort, simply called Giving Back, including a constantly updated Giving Back Tracker, which displays where the donation has occurred. 

In addition, the company is also expanding its “Give Back With Shaq” campaign, featuring basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal. New this year is “Shaq’s Santa Sack,” which the company says is the first-ever official Toys for Tots wish list of suggested playthings, and can be printed out at in-store kiosks.

O’Neal is set to make surprise visits to Toys R Us stores throughout the season, as well as contribute content to its Facebook page, and tweet about his travels. He has also filmed a video, with his own version of The 12 Days of Christmas, and the company says it plans to distribute clips throughout the campaign.

Now its ninth year, Toys R Us continues to be the largest corporate partner, and has raised a total of $27.6 million (and corralled 3.4 million toys) for the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.

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