Toys “R” Us Canada gamifies Geoffrey the Giraffe

From Shopper Marketing Report: The retailer touts top toys by taking an augmented reality approach to make toy stores "magical again."


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The Toys “R” Us jingle goes, “I don’t wanna grow up, I’m a Toys “R” Us kid,” but that doesn’t preclude the junior demo from emulating their elders’ penchant for all the latest tech.

In Canada, the retailer is honing in on its target (and their millennial parents) with a Snapchat Portal Lens, which leads users through an augmented reality of toys popping out at them, led by its mascot, Geoffrey the Giraffe.

The Portal includes a gamified lens that lets Snapchat users collect Geoffrey the Giraffe and take a picture with the animated mascot. There is also a lens that shows Geoffrey jumping off the cover of the brand’s interactive Holiday Toy Book, which was released online on November 1 and in print November 4.

toys-r-usFrank Juhasz, VP of marketing and omni channel innovation at Toys “R” Us Canada, tells strategy that it’s a neat use of AR but that the retailer is just scratching the surface. “It’s not hard to let your imagination run wild as to where we can go with this from a virtual store perspective, having more interactivity with top toys.”

He says that he approached Snapchat by saying, “Hey guys, ‘I have one of the world’s most recognizable brand names, a whole bunch of loyal Canadian consumers, we fall into your markets, and I’d like to be a guinea pig.”

According to Juhasz, there’s a lot of crossover between Toys “R” Us and Snapchat’s 16 and under demo.

Snapchat, he says, is starting to target young millennial parents as well. “We of course sell to this group, which is particularly important to us, as that’s when we can pick up a customer and follow them through their parenting life stage, and hand them off from Babies “R” Us to Toys “R” Us,”” Juhasz says.

The partnership began this past summer and he says the brand wanted to have something ready for the Christmas season. According to Juhasz, in the past, toy stores were magical because there were toys stacked to the ceiling. “That’s not enough these days. What do we need to do to make the toy store magical again?”


A large part of the retailer’s shopper strategy remains decidedly old school, however.

The print version of the toy book is already in stores and arrived on the doorsteps of more than five million Canadian dwellings last week (it’s also available online via the Flipp flyer platform).

In store, the retailer is activating around its products through things like holiday train displays, featuring the likes of Paw Patrol and Beyblades and more. In March, the brand partnered with Mattel to celebrate Barbie’s 60th birthday, and last October, the two brands kicked off a promotion to offer a new Barbie for 60 weeks in a row in honour of the 60th anniversary.

“Almost every single weekend, we have events in our stores,” he says, all in an effort to create “parent/child communities.”

On November 16 and 17, Santa is visiting select Toys “R” Us Canada stores. Families are encouraged to take pictures with Santa and Geoffrey, who will also be at the Montreal and Toronto Santa Claus parades.

That same weekend, at stores outside of Quebec, Toys “R” Us will hold, in partnership with Elf on the Shelf, a scavenger hunt to locate seven Scout Elf photos hidden throughout the store to reveal a special message from Santa.