Cause Marketing in the Real World: Toys “R” Us

As cause marketers, it’s hard not to admire the shear breadth of Toys “R” Us promotions. In 2010, the toy store chain received a Halo Award by Cause Marketing Forum for Shaq Gives Back, a cause marketing promotion for the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. Facebook users were encouraged to join Shaq by liking Toys “R” Us or Babies “R” Us to trigger a $1 donation to Toys for Tots.

The impact was impressive: The company’s Facebook fans increased from 20,000 to almost 445,000. Nearly 30,000 users posted messages on its walls. The campaign raised $3.4 million and collected more than 335,000 toys.

In addition, Toys “R” Us contributed an additional $1 million worth of toys — nearly half of which resulted from the Join Shaq Facebook campaign.

Other cause marketing efforts include

  • Trick-or-Treat for Unicef: As a national sponsor, Toys “R” Us embraced the program by distributing the iconic orange collection boxes, asking customers to support the program, and hosting parades in its stores where kids could design their own box. That’s partner engagement!

  • Autism Speaks: Toys “R” Us raised money for the nonprofit in its stores with point-of-sale and also sponsored the Walk Now for Autism Speaks at 80 locations around the country.

  • Make-a-Wish: Toys “R” Us awards shopping sprees to young kids with life-threatening medical conditions. It has donated over $300,000 to help grant wishes to deserving children.

The lesson for companies and causes of all sizes is how Toys “R” Us leverages its assets — busy stores, in-kind donations, vibrant online presence, employee activation around the country — to help needy men, women, and children.

Toys “R” Us is a great place to buy toys. But when it comes to cause marketing, it doesn’t play around. Neither should you.

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