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Toys “R” Us crafts sweeping social campaign for annual fundraiser

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October 17, 2014

toysToys “R” Us is again leveraging NBA legendary player Shaquille O’Neal to promote its Toys for Tots fundraiser as well as the hashtag #PlayItForward, a video series and exclusive social content across Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. 

For every photo shared using the hashtag, Toys “R” Us will donate an additional toy, or the equivalent cash value, to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, up to $150,000. Toys “R” Us is utilizing a strong social trend to spread awareness of its efforts and do good this holiday season.

“Each year, Toys ‘R’ Us customers show their incredible generosity and support of our annual Toys for Tots campaign through in-store and online donations, eager to give back to kids in need and bring smiles to their faces,” said Nicole Hayes, assistant manager of public relations at Toys “R” Us, New York. “As part of our fundraising and awareness efforts, we continually leverage social media to engage with our customers and those who support this charitable initiative.

“This year, we’re challenging our fans and followers to #PlayItForward by sharing the ultimate ‘un-selfie,’ which is a photo of themselves donating to Toys for Tots at Toys ‘R’ Us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook,” she said. “For every donation selfie shared using #PlayItForward, Toys ‘R’ Us will donate another toy to Toys for Tots.

“We wanted to create a fun and easy way for people to get involved, double the giving and hopefully inspire others to do the same so we can spread the holiday joy even further.”

Giving through social
Mr. O’Neal will play Santa Claus for the campaign and encourage the Play It Forward challenge, which is to be “un-selfie” or unselfish and donate a toy in any store across the country and then share a selfie.

Shared selfies garner additional donations from Toys “R” Us.

Participants are also asked to share their selfies on the Toys “R” Us Facebook page at Facebook.com/Toyrus and tag @Toysrus when posting on Instagram and Twitter.

Throughout the campaign, fans of the Toys “R” Us Facebook page and followers on Instagram and Twitter will enjoy exclusive content, such as special messages from Mr. O’Neal, fundraising updates and more.

The company has also created a video series featuring Mr. O’Neal and his explanation of the Play It Forward challenge. Mr. O’Neal will also be occasionally posting on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

On Dec. 2, the toy retailer will triple its gifting through its social media movement designed to kick off the season of giving. On this day, the company will donate two toys to Toys for Tots for every donation selfie posted on social media using #PlayItForward.

The campaign will go through Dec. 7.

A player in mobile
In a recent ad campaign, Toys “R” Us tapped traditional television spots and social media networks in a cross-platform strategy that encouraged consumers to share how toys inspire their everyday lives.

The unveiling of hashtag #LetsPlay was disseminated across the most popular destinations visited respectively by desktop, mobile and tablet users, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube with premier placements on Hulu and Hulu Plus. Content included commercial clips, behind-the-scenes photos and video from the broader “C’mon Let’s Play” marketing plan (see story).

In 2013, Toys “R” Us added a mobile component to an annual holiday toy guide that helped parents better understand what kinds of toys are suited for special needs children.

The retailer’s Toys “R” Us App Guide for Differently-Abled Kids included a list of 25 mobile applications that were aimed at helping develop creative, critical thinking and fine motor skills. The initiative also helped bolster awareness of Toys “R” Us’ branded tablet (see story).

Perhaps its most cherished initiative, Toys for Tots is a program during a busy time of year when Toys “R” Us can extensively leverage the influence of social.

“At Toys ‘R’ Us, we understand the important role playtime has in a child’s life,” Ms. Hayes said. “It allows kids to dream, imagine, explore and create lasting memories, and nobody is a greater champion of play or a bigger kid at heart than Shaquille O’Neal.

“At a young age, Shaquille’s father gave him a Christmas gift that opened his mind to new possibilities, which was a basketball signed by Dr. J,” she said. “And, ever since he made it into the NBA, Shaquille embarked on a mission to deliver gifts to children in need so they can experience that same joy.

“Together, we’re asking supporters to help us give the gift of play to those children who need it most. Through the #PlayItForward Challenge, we hope to double the giving and ensure even more kids in need experience the joy of opening a toy on Christmas morning.”

Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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