Last week we laid out the big moves that the leadership of Toys ‘R’ Us failed to take to evolve with customer needs. This week, billionaire Isaac Larian set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise 1Bn and save 400 of the remaining 735 US stores. He is blaming the debt connected to the private equity owners for the epic failure of the brand. Would you donate to the campaign?
I would not. Here is why.
Today, social media empowers real time conversations between brands and consumers. Inspiring brand leaders have a real time communications tool to speak to their customers and take accountability for their actions. Social media equips brands like KFC to manage their mistakes brilliantly and turn them into meaningful connections with customers. Even with these tools, Toys ‘R’ Us leaders are quiet. Nobody is “coming out” and taking ownership of the destruction of an iconic brand. The company gave a flat statement that after they filed for bankruptcy last September they had a “bad holiday season.” That lack of accountability and transparency displays either that the leadership of Toys ‘R’ Us still does not understand its crucial role in the company’s failure to adapt, or that they are afraid to own their actions. Either way, this does not sound like a team that deserves a bail out.
Did you feel like the brand management did anything different this year during the holiday season? Did you see any creative retention or acquisition campaigns? Any coupons in your mailboxes to draw you in to the stores? Were there any smart partnerships to make a difference in your experience with the brand?
We all know that ad campaigns are expensive. But a national activation campaign and clever promotions and sales are not that draining on the balance sheet. So no, I will not pay to support a leadership that did not show creativity to boost sales and engagement during the holiday season and is not showing accountability or taking ownership now.
Last, but not least, what are we being asked to fund, exactly? Our past, our memories, or the future for our children? CNN made an emotional clip with ads from the past and a kid crying that the store closed.
The iconic jingle does stand for the joy of kids since 1948. Toys “R” Us was the brand of children for the last 70 years. Yet, when I needed a last minute toy for my niece last Christmas, Amazon was the brand that had same day delivery for Prime customers. This last season, when I needed a robot that could play with my nephew, Amazon was the one selling it. I am not sure what we will be saving with this campaign. Our children’s future, or our own memories of the past? And you know what? We can keep our memories in our hearts for FREE. And our children’s future might be in the next gen toys store that has not been created yet.