Geoffrey's Comeback Tour: Toys"R"Us Rethinks Retail

Toys”R”Us? But weren’t they….? But didn’t they…? Yes and yes. They were gone…and now they are back. The storied brand suffered one of the highest profile retailer bankruptcies in recent times and closed all of its iconic US outlets in 2021. But in the last year, Toys”R”Us reemerged in every Macy's location in the US. There's even one Babies"R"Us flagship store in New Jersey. And you may be seeing their familiar mascot, Geoffrey the Giraffe, on the sides of a 38-foot custom RV that is cutting across America in this summer's Geoffrey Mobile Tour. The emotional tug of this brand remains strong and marketable. The touring Geoffrey has been known to make grown men cry, says Kim Miller, Global Chief Marketing Officer. You can listen to the entire podcast at this link.



MediaPost: What is the Toys“R”Us footprint now? 

Kim Miller: When Toys“R”Us was acquired by WHP Global in March 2021, I joined in June 2021. Since then, we are now in over 1350 stores in 31 countries. And we also are in every Macy's across the USA. And we do have our global flagship store in American Dream Mall in East Rutherford, NJ, and we're growing.

MP: How do you think about which marketing channels you're using to drive people to Macy’s? 

Miller: Well, it's a pretty incredible thing to be partnered with Macy's, because Macy's gets to do what they do best, and then we get to do what we do best. Macy's is marketing on a huge scale to America, One day selling housewares and one day selling clothes and one day selling toys. But at the same time the magic of Macy's has been Miracle on 34th Street, the Parade, Santa Land. There's a lot of synergy that comes from that. And then what we bring is every day we talk about toys. We're 365 days of talking about toys through our social media, through our email blast, through We're able to constantly build a relationship with the consumer on a daily basis and then they're able to do their big missions that they do so well as Macy’s. It's really an interesting and very complementary way to relate to the consumer and to sell.

MP: And are you using mainly digital channels to do this? I didn't hear TV in there.

Miller: We do a little bit of TV with Macy's. There's usually one big commercial and that goes on as part of Macy's big holiday media campaign. But we are very heavy in digital. I believe that social media is one of the best ways to build a relationship with the consumer. It's a two-way conversation. And it's been a big part of our strategy.

MP: Let's talk about the messaging. Are there particular tag lines? This is a particular brand message that you're bringing to bear here. There is an emotional attachment to this brand. 

Miller: Everybody knows the song “I don't want to grow up. I'm a Toys“R”Us kid.” It's taking that song, but it's adding a little bit of a modern R&B version to it. It's putting Geoffrey on TikTok where he now has over a million followers and 100 million likes, where Gen Z just loves seeing him. It's connecting with kids on YouTube. And then it's empowering parents every day. On Instagram and Facebook, we offer a lot of gift guides. We're constantly reacting to what's going on in pop culture, so that parents know what their kids are seeing and doing and sharing the type of toys that are related to Teenage Ninja Turtles. 

We just partnered with Macy's. They had these huge, wonderful sculps in the store and these events, but we were constantly doing social media campaigns and driving the product. There's a lot of a lot of synergy with that kind of stuff. And one of my jobs is that Geoffrey should really be what Mickey Mouse is to Disney. He's a big part of this, and on our tour across America. You arrive and the parents are so excited to share with their kids an icon that they had as a kid. And you're hitting two emotional touch points in one with Geoffrey coming out and interacting with kids in a kid-friendly way, but parents having that love.

MP: What is the customer journey now? I mean, historically, Toys“R”Us was the place we all went for toys. It was by far the biggest brand retailer, so when it went down, it went down with a big noise, and people really did wonder, where do we get our toys now? What has been learned about what the customer journey is in the toy space?

Miller: We believe that the customer journey is to meet them everywhere they are. A customer may look online and want to go to the store to buy it. A customer may look on social and buy on social or buy online. We are everywhere they are. The in-person retail is actually very valuable for a few different reasons. Number one, we're bringing a lot of customers into Macy's for the first time. And then they're going and converting to buying other things.

So going into a Toys“R”Us because of that history is an experience again for the millennial and for their kids. At Macy's  there are activities and things like that, so it's still an experience. Geoffrey has a cab you can ride, it has a slide, it is all fun things like that. We also partner with our toy partners like Barbie to provide little pink carpets that girls take their pictures on. Or there's a huge Lite-Brite with huge pegs that you can make into any picture image you want. 

There's the Playmobil characters. It's bringing that magic into retail as well as buying. Then, of course, it's making sure everything that you expect from Toys“R”Us that the top brands are there, that the hottest toys are there, that we're bringing in, exclusives that we're starting to do again. And all those things are synergized. The dwell rates are fairly high in our stores, in our American Dream it’s over an hour, which is unheard of. And then the great thing about Macy's is if you got to pick something else up, everything's right there, but it's not just a few aisles. We made sure that the Toys“R”Us colors were there, that the signage was there. There's a photo-op with Geoffrey on a bench that has different signage of where you are and people hashtag that all the time, and we reshare it on social media. There's a lot of the things that make it a strong brand that make it a different experience even when you walk into the store. I love it when I can turn around that a Toys“R”Us in a Macy's and feel like it's still a 360 experience that it's a Toys“R”Us yet you're inside a Macy's.

MP: What are your main metrics of success beyond sales? 

Miller: Well, we have a few different things. Again, from a global perspective and a US perspective, brand awareness and brand interaction are huge for us. We want the consumer to think first that Toys“R”Us is the place to go for toys, whether on social media, getting information and buying, on ecommerce on either the site or site. So that engagement and that top of mind is extremely important. Also looking to us as an authority on play. Again, we try to really empower parents. You can go to Amazon if you have a number that you know for a toy or you know a specific thing you want. But if you need buying guides, if you need to understand that you have a kid that is a little shy, what kind of play patterns and things like that could help them. We’ve done a lot of research and are the authority for that. We're making sure that parents are coming to us for that. And then obviously sales, and our partnerships and Macy's being happy. Having our CEO going out to lunch with their CEO, saying the marketing's great, this is working, we're hitting numbers, all that kind of stuff is hugely powerful. 

MP: Since first-party data is so important now to all of these digital processes, especially now that you have another retail partner, what is your access to customer data and how are you using it internally?

Miller: As I said, the thing that I love most about working with Macy's is we have a very synergized relationship. They are sharing stuff with us on many different levels, and then jointly, we look at how we should react to it. If we see that tweens are a big market, now we look at that right now. The Kidult is coming back. We had some strategy meetings with Macy's on Kidult and how that influences the product we buy and how we talk to the consumer. We are looking at what trends are, we are looking at what their sales are, we are looking at all of that stuff together, and then together figuring out what the best strategy is and how to move. Like we're talking about Comic-Con. Geoffrey went to Comic-Con in New York last year, and actually I saw a grown man cry and hug him, which I did not expect, but it was fun to see. And now together we're looking at Comic-Con as a strategy for 2025. And the type of stuff that you don't normally think is going to happen when you're talking to a retailer like Macy's. But we're really together looking hard to be disruptive, and how to how to give the consumer what they need in a different way, which is really fun.

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