Geoffrey the Giraffe is back: Toys R Us CMO calls it a comeback
Amid the popular toy retailer’s return (thanks to Macy’s), Geoffrey the Giraffe is named on Advertising Week’s Madison Avenue Walk of Fame.
Toys R Us’s Geoffrey the Giraffe won first place in Advertising Week’s mascot poll / Toys “R” Us
It wasn’t so much fun being Toys R Us for a while. Once the dream destination of children all across America, the toy retailer was liquidated and reinstated twice.
The nadir for the brand was in 2017. Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy, with plans to close its 735 stores. The liquidation of the brand left 33,000 workers without jobs. In 2021, WHP Global acquired the brand and its assets, marking a historic comeback for the nostalgic brand, as a new company with a new plan of action.
This summer, retail chain Macy’s announced a partnership with Toys R Us that would open Toys R Us shops in every Macy’s store in America; the in-store shops would range between 1,000 and 10,000 square feet in size. By the end of October, nearly 1,400 Toys R Us stores will be open for business around the globe.
“The whole concept is taking iconic brands that either have failing business models, or in this case even went bankrupt, and because they’re so great, bringing them back to life,” says Kim Miller, global chief marketing officer of Toys R Us. “This brand and this iconic mascot are loved by millennials, gen Z and future kids will love them ... Geoffrey is amazing. People are connected to him – and it’s a beautiful thing.”
Geoffrey the Giraffe returns
Today, Geoffrey the Giraffe, Toys R Us’s beloved mascot of nearly 60 years, has been named on Advertising Week’s Madison Avenue Walk of Fame.
To assist in the brand’s phoenix-like resurgence, the brand established Geoffrey’s social media presence – an important step in introducing the giraffe to younger generations. “Geoffrey meets his audience where they are,” Miller says. “He’s both playful and attractive with the trends.”
At Comic-Con 2022, Geoffrey announced a TikTok and Instagram sweepstakes that encourages fans to submit dances to his remixed jingle, along with the hashtag #GeoffreysDanceChallenge, for a chance to win a VIP visit from the giraffe himself and a toy bundle. Saved by the Bell star Mario Lopez and his family just submitted their own dance this week. “Geoffrey is a TikTok star now, and gen Z loves the heck out of him,” says Miller.
Meanwhile on YouTube, Toys R Us Studios launched Geoffrey Vision, a kid’s show where the giraffe teaches children simple lessons such as easy exercises and art guessing games. Geoffrey’s recent world tour – the brand’s first 360° marketing campaign – was also documented on YouTube. Over the summer, the giraffe visited London, Madrid, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and other key global markets, and at each stop a child ambassador greeted him.
How old is Geoffrey anyway? We now know
For the first time since his inception in 1965, Geoffrey was given an official birthday – October 17 – and a forever age of 9 ½. For nine days, every Toys R Us store around the globe celebrates Geoffrey’s birthday through a number of different themed days, from Barbie Day to Pokémon Day. “We want to make sure that Geoffrey and the brand are loved by millennial parents, gen Z and the kids to come,” she says. “After all, everybody is a Toys R Us kid.
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Fun fact: Geoffrey was originally named Dr G Raffe. He starred in print ads beginning in 1965 and then began appearing on TV in 1973. (It is worth noting that the chain’s jingle was named one of The Drum’s top 10 jingles of all time.)
In the early 2000s, the company even created a life-like animatronic version of Geoffrey. He briefly ‘retired’ amid a number of legal battles in 2018, but has clearly returned triumphantly. We will even see a Geoffrey-themed float in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this year.
“A lot of big things are coming; we have a big growth trajectory ahead,” says Miller. “It’s been so nice to have everybody thrilled that Geoffrey is back and Toys R Us is back.”