Toys R Us give underprivileged kids free toys, concern trolls wish they hadn't.

Look at the girl top left. Look at her face. She loves this hug. She loves whatever toy that is. Do you want to deny her a great big fluffy hug cuddle? Really? No, you wouldn't. And the feel-good prankvert from Toys R us "Field Trip" is full of these little moments of awe/awww. Around 200 kids, selected from New York City charity groups as they are all from underprivileged homes, board a bus thinking they're getting a field trip to see trees. Instead they're on a field trip to Toys R Us, and they get to pick one toy - any toy - to keep. Toys R Us are competing with santa here, making toy-wishes come true. Kids pick everything from very useful bikes to super cute branded dolls. The toys they have been dreaming of, and might never have gotten otherwise. #WishinAccomplished ! Forbes writes Reality Prank From Toys R Us Backfires With Women, and Will Burns the Founder & CEO of Ideasicle, self-depreciatingly mentions "Being a guy, I totally missed that point" when his co-worker laments that the element of surprise was pitted against mother nature. If we're honest here, Toys R Us couldn't have pitted against anything else without provoking some concern-trolls along the way. A science museum visit? You hate knowledge! A trip to the art museum? You hate all visual arts! A tour of a factory? You hate the American workers! And so on. Concern trolls will troll, it's what they do. Of course a "tree tour" where kids are raising their hands to answer questions about leaf shapes must be an attack on all of mother nature herself, and you know, not just a bland tour. Because the difference between a boring tour and a fun one is only topic, in the concern trolls world, and not the execution. You see, instead of watching this video, and seeing kids from underprivileged and broken homes on a tree-field trip, which then turns into a serious break from their disadvantaged life, and slides right into best day ever territory... Concern troll see only that these kids are not learning about tree-leaves. Gosh darnit, they're having fun. Quick, lets do something about that. Lets complain on facebook. And off the vocal minority went, took to facebook to complain, using their six hundred dollar smartphones and their thousand dollar laptop toys. Like an army of the Grinch they wave their "I'm a mother" flags and want to stop the fun before anyone develops cavities. We can't have a toy company advertising that they exist by playing Santa to a plethora of the urban poor children, giving them stuff for free in a day that will be fondly remembered by them forever. Nooo. They should play with sticks instead. Those poor deprived kids. Give them leaves. Well, I'm a mother too, and I say humbug to that. Rubbish to all of you concern trolls who would deny underprivileged kids a great day out and a really nice toy they otherwise probably couldn't afford. Rubbish to the outrage over a fun prank where nobody thought a meteor was about to hit earth or telekinesis is real - I'm so sick of those scary prankvertising stunts, it's a miracle nobody has had a heart attack yet. In this stunt, “Meet the Trees” became a dream come true for over 200 unsuspecting kids, pulling off a prank like this is an elaborate undertaking involving the parents and lots of hidden go-pro cameras. Humbug to all of you who refuse to see the positive in the underprivileged kids's smiles, and instead throw shade on the whole thing. Who are you to deny them, from the comfort of your keyboard? Of course, those who are vocal against it, have something else to sell. Kat Gordon, creative director at Maternal Instinct and founder of the 3% Conference, who is quoted in the Forbes article is promoting her change the ratio/more women in advertising conference, and she says: "My gut says that a seasoned parent definitely did not write this campaign". Alas she is wrong. The ECD for example has three kids whose shenanigans are 99.9% of his facebook status updates. Liz Gumbinner, blogger at Mom 101 misreads the ad to be "promoting the idea that learning is lame, forest rangers are lame, and field trips are lame" while her own blog "Cool mom picks" featured advertising partners of the day happens to be local toy stores, direct competitors to the big lot Toys R Us store. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the reason that you don't see the urban poor cheering this ad on facebook is mainly because the library computers are only available during the same hours the single mothers work. Ain't nobody got time for that. Those already so privileged that a #WishinAccomplished day means nothing to them, have plenty of time to clutch their pearls. In which case, I hope those people share this season, and when they're out buying leaves for their kids, drop a coin in for their charity group of choice. Sometimes charities do crazy fun things like send kids on field trips to Toys R Us, along with their soup kitchens and homework help.

See the video here: Toys "R" Us "surprise" (2013) 1:30 (USA)

Texas Parks & Wildlife had to seize the opportunity to polevault their no budget ad into being seen by a wider audience via the twitter-hashtag too. Because in the end, all advertising is competing for attention. They have responded with a youtube video.

Bonus! The Colbert Report made fun of the ad too, propelling this stunt high up the chart of earned media. "Toys R Us has really captured the magic of having a stranger take your kids on a bus, lie about where they're going, then take off his clothes and promise them toys..."

The Colbert Report

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Amy Jussel, Shaping Youth 's picture

Beg to differ. I'm not a troll or a pearl clutcher, nor do I have anything to sell. I've worked w/the exact same under-served populations/Title One schools being targeted on the dang bus, and as a former ad industry creative, don't see why ANY "concern" needed to be used, much less tossed under the bus, unless it was purposeful for buzzworthy outrage baiting. (+c'mon don't tell me that's not a brand strategy these days)

If the Toys R Us honest intent was to showcase a transition from a yawning routine to a ‘feel good’ destination, they could’ve easily done that without dissing trees (or STEM/museums/whatevs) by going over generic bus rules on pairing up, staying in line, name tags, safety lectures into the gleeful reveal, but instead they specifically chose to uproot the great outdoors and learning for craptastic consumerism…Further, nature has not been missing in these kids' lives by choice but by circumstance, and they're the very ones who shine the brightest when given the opportunity for discovery and experiential hands-on outdoor fun with animals, water, sailing, you name it.

Here's my take on how it coulda/shoulda been handled if they really wanted to go for brand building buzz AND do good at the same time!

kidsleepy's picture

So...your take on what they should have done, is a link to your own blog. Sounds like you're doing some promoting to me. :)

Let me tell you something. For a few years growing up, my parents were poor. One year our Santa came in the form of the Salvation Army. I would never in a million years begrudge a kid a toy, nor a working class single mom a chance at living vicariously through the joy a toy brings.

That's what bothers me so much about the majority of troll concern comments on facebook. It all wreaks of the special kind of hypocrisy that can only come from the out of touch white upper class who has won life's lottery and now thinks its their job to tell everyone else how to live. What they should and shouldn't enjoy.

Only one segment of the population who can easily afford all of the computers, toys, smart phones and cars they give themselves and their kids every year are like this. And it's the same Whole Foods shopping 1%ers who are voicing their outrage.

Colonial elitism. That's what it is. As if the poor and broken homed kids are the new noble savages, destined only to have the freedom of education and nature, but none of the material goods that the privileged classes take for granted. Why? Because one one level it keeps them in their place.

What's even more annoying is that these same privileged folks always hide behind "the children," and yell at "Evil Capitalist" card to hide their elitism and their ignorance.

How they hell do you know what Toys R Us means and doesn't mean? How the hell do they dare to speak for the working class with such authority?

Give. Me. A. Break.

Amy Jussel, Shaping Youth 's picture

Pardon, no one is begrudging kids toys; but the methodology/authenticity/motivation of the campaign is in question. And for the record, I was ASKED to leave that link to the blog by the author of this post on Twitter, and I in turn linked to THIS post, as that's what civil discourse/critical thinking +media literacy deconstruction is all about...(I hesitated to do so, as the snarky self-righteous ad folks playing the predictable treehugger/'evil capitalism' card are tiring) Over and out. (and onward)

Rebecca Hains's picture

I think the reality is more complicated than an either / or situation here. Here are two statements of fact:

1. It is terrific that Toys R Us provided 200 underprivileged children with the toys of their dreams. What a wonderful thing to do!

2. It is a shame that Toys R Us created an advertisement that implicitly pitted toys against nature. The Toys R Us ad will be seen by FAR more children than the 200 involved in the ad's creation. Those children are the real audience for the ad, and they will receive the message that toys are better than nature (when in fact kids need a healthy balance of both).

In other words, critics can be happy for the 200 children who were treated to the joy of new toys while ALSO recognizing that the ad, itself, is problematic for the viewing audience.

kidsleepy's picture

Who mentioned tree hugging?

The author of this post mentioned that as a mom, the ad resonated with her and concern trolls should take a step back and consider the kids who were moved by the gesture.

And I mentioned the people condemning the gesture are rich white elitists who are unable to relate to this socio-economic strata and are therefore unable to understand it, or their own hypocrisy. I stand by that assessment. Who else but the affluent leisure class has enough time to be so enraged about a commercial? Only those who have every material good known to man, or the economic means to procure it.

As for self promotion, this is an ad blog and "ad folks" and their related ilk tend to promote themselves. Sorry if you didn't see my humor, in that regard. But I see nothing wrong with self-promotion, or I wouldn't have gotten in the business. I'm only saying there tends to be a double standard when people in Forbes get interviewed slamming a brand for doing the exact same thing they're doing. Sorry if the irony escapes you.

As for pitting toys against nature, that now seems to be a standard talking point, on this ad. As if Toys R Us really set out to alienate a bunch of people in making this project. But I don't believe that is an accurate assessment as the point of the ad wasn't to say "Screw you, mother nature." I also don't see this ad as being such a huge faux pas that should have been rectified by concerned moms everywhere. This isn't Gilbert Gottfried's Tsunami joke. There were women working on this ad in the credits. And I'm willing to bet people who consider themselves green. Hell with the number of people approving this ad on the client side, creating this ad on the agency side, and making this ad on production side, I fail to see how that sheer number would've overlooked something if it had been so important.

As for your post Rebecca, I have seen very few comments on Facebook truly understanding the commercial's concept. I have seen very few comments applauding Toys R Us's generosity, and make no mistake it was. I have seen a lot of misinterpretation, and second guessing as to the motivation, and an extreme amount of overreaction.

I think the lesson here is this: Whether you're a big business or an environmentalist, when you only see green, it makes people see red. And it's about time everyone took a step back and tended to their own garden.

Dabitch's picture

As I stated in my post, I don't think Toys R Us could have made that tour bus be anything without someone getting upset about [x] being "pitted" against Toys! (read: Fun) Whatever the bus was, it had to pretend for a moment to be something that wasn't all too exciting - because had it been exciting, it would not have made the reveal of the prank interesting. It could have been anything - a trip to the science museum, whatever... Regardless of topic, it's not the trip itself that is boring, it's how the bus-host is doing it. Holding up cards, mumbling, asking if the kids can name the tree by looking at their leaves (and interestingly, if you noticed, the kids can and are raising their hands participating in this "boring" bit.)

Then the reveal. We're going to the toy store and you get a free anything-you-want. And off to facebook everyone went to complain about mother nature having to unfairly compete with toys. Or gosh, the rampant capitalism seen on commercial TV. Tap tap on their smartphones, people were oh-so-very angry about this, because wearing a cause on your social media sleeve is the new keeping up with the Joneses.