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Toys “R” Us Auction Canceled: A Lesson in The Power of Branding

Toys “R” Us Auction Canceled: A Lesson in The Power of Branding Blog Feature

Stephanie Baiocchi

Director of Community & Events, Speaker, Co-Leader of the Chicago HubSpot User Group, Host of ‘The IMPACT Show’ Podcast

October 5th, 2018 min read

Earlier this year we learned we were finally going to have to grow up - we couldn’t be Toys “R” Us kids anymore.

Or can we?

While the stores may have closed, the lovable toy brand isn’t gone just yet.

In fact, according to documents filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the hedge funds and asset managers who planned to liquidate the Toys “R” Us assets have decided to cancel the auction.

Here’s What’s Happening

They’ll be holding onto the Toys “R” Us intellectual property assets themselves and say they’re considering "a new, operating Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us branding company that maintains existing global license agreements and can invest in and create new, domestic, retail operating businesses under the Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us names."

That’s right, the Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us brand names, websites, and the beloved Geoffrey the Giraffe mascot have been saved.

Unfortunately for those who were thinking of a Black Friday or winter holiday shopping spree at a Toys “R” Us store, that likely won’t be the case. Aside from the fact that store locations have already been liquidated, it would take months to reopen retail locations and many major toy suppliers such as Mattel Inc. have already had to find new distribution outlets.

A Strong Brand In Action

With the recent developments, it seems the investors believe there is more value in maintaining the group of assets than selling them individually.

They may even revive the brands’ retail stores. According to the court documents, the investors plan to maintain the brands and open new, independent business stores will be brought back “in a new and re-imagined way.”

This just goes to show you “once a Toys “R” Us kid, always a Toys “R” Us kid.”

As stores began to close this year, memorial posts began popping up across social media.

On June 27th, (my birthday... this heartbreaker was posted on my birthday) one store employee, Rene Johnpiere,  posted the heartbreaking photo of Geoffrey with a suitcase in an empty Toys “R” Us store.


Photo by: Rene Johnpiere

Needless to say, despite possibly shopping at Amazon and Walmart, people love the Toys “R” Us brand.

Their love and loyalty have proven so strong that it kept the investors from parting with the brand’s assets.

"This is proof that marketing is more powerful than money,” shared my IMPACT teammate, Nick Bennett.

“They were billions in debt, closed 735 stores, laid off thousands, filed for bankruptcy and then realized the brand is so powerful they are going to bring it back from the dead!”

But how did they do it?

Toys “R” Us made it easy for customers to be advocates.

They had a catchy song, a cute mascot, and gave everyone something to aspire to -- children, the coolest toy, and parents, the dream of giving the children in their lives a wonderful surprise.  They gave people not only a reason to love them, but easy ways to love them and to share that love.

The brand has clearly lived beyond the death of its stores and it’ll be exciting to see how investors revive it, but overall, this is an inspirational tale for marketers.

Create brands that people truly love and they will stand the test of time and market changes.


Image credit: Faiz Zaki /

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