As Toys “R” Us continues to navigate uncertain waters in light of its recent bankruptcy filing, the New Jersey-based retailer currently has its sights set on boosting its in-store shopping experience.
Unveiled today, TRU’s new Today We Play marketing rebrand focuses on bringing more interactive elements to nearly 50 Toys “R” Us stores in the US. The locations will debut Play Labs with some of the season’s hottest toys, which will allow kids and parents to test out toys before making a purchase. Seasonal toy demonstrators will also be on-hand to show kids how to best interact with the hottest playthings.
On October 6, TRU will bring a giant Etch A Sketch screen to New York subways in order to get commuters in touch with their creative sides. The company will also hit college campuses this fall with a van filled with toys to encourage students to play. And at this year’s New York Comic Con, TRU will be bringing its first-ever shoppable booth for fans with the official first-look at the Fan Vault, a new in-store collector experience.
The campaign is being supported by a new TV ad directed by Hollywood producer Shawn Levy (Stranger Things).
The move falls in line with analysts’ suggestions for a TRU turnaround. BMO Capital Markets Toys & Leisure analyst Gerrick Johnson, for one, told Kidscreen before TRU’s bankruptcy filing that the retailer needed to become more experiential in order to stay alive.
“It needs to become a place where people want to go to be entertained and also to buy toys,” Johnson said at the time. “Parents still go to stores, but you need to get the kids in too. How do you do that? With clowns? Or giraffes? Just anything you can’t get on Amazon.”
TRU is also putting its efforts into bolstering its online marketplace. The company has tapped Mirakl to create a new online hub for Toy “R” Us and Babies “R” Us businesses in the US and Canada. The platform will launch in 2018 enabling TRU to increase product selection and decrease time to sell new products.
It will also allow TRU to use data from third-party products and sellers to identify new retail partners and influence the company’s in-store offerings.
Following its bankruptcy announcement, the chain’s 1,600 TRU and BRU stores around the world are continuing to operate along with the company’s e-commerce sites. In a statement, the company said it would use court-supervised proceedings to restructure its outstanding debt and establish a sustainable capital structure in order to invest in long-term growth.
TRU also dipped its toe in more experiential efforts a month ago, announcing it would be opening a pop-up New York City Time Square shop for the holiday season with demo areas.