Toys ‘R’ Us Keeps Airing Perhaps ‘The Most Anti-Science, Anti-Environmental TV Ad Ever’


geoffreyTo comment on this dreadful ad, use the company’s own ironic hashtag #WishinAccomplished.

Once upon a time Toys ‘R’ Us ran a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad TV Ad. It was about how science education and field trips to nature are boring, boring, boring — especially when compared to free toys.

Many people mocked and criticized them. Stephen Colbert said:

“This commercial shows kids the ‘great outdoors’ is nothing compared to the majesty of a strip mall. And they still get some nature because, remember, that confetti used to be a tree!”

A leading environmental scientist, Peter Gleick, posed the question on HuffPost, “Is This the Most Anti-Science, Anti-Environmental TV Ad Ever?” Dr. Gleick notes the “ad is offensive on so many levels,” for instance:

  • It insults science and environmental education teachers.
  • It insults science and environmental education programs and field trips.
  • It promotes blind commercialism and consumerism (OK, I know that’s the society we live in, and the purpose of ads, and the only real goal of Toys “R” Us, but to be so blatantly offensive and insensitive?)

The official blog of the National Recreation and Park Association writes, “Toys R Us Should Support, Not Bash, Kids’ Trips To The Woods.”

It is especially ironic that Toys “R” Us is running this anti-nature ad given that its mascot/logo for over half a century has been Geoffrey the Giraffe, which the company explains was “formerly known as Dr. G. Raffe.” I guess it was an honorary doctorate.

Despite the criticism and numerous online petitions asking them to pull this offensive ad — including one at Credo Mobilize with over 19,000 signatures — the company keeps running it. In fact, says the ad has run 697 times, most recently on Nick at 2:31 a.m. (!) EST Saturday during a rerun of the (adult) sitcom “The New Adventures of Old Christine.”

No, there aren’t a lot of kids watching TV at 2:30 in the morning — but in case you had any doubts about who this ad is really aimed at, Nickelodeon notes “Nick Jr.’s NickMom block added the sitcom this past June.” Yes, Toys ‘R’ Us wants sleep-deprived moms to know that science education and nature trips suck.

Sadly, the company has made this ad — which it calls an “Amusing and Heartwarming TV Commercial” — the centerpiece of a major campaign, as its October 21 press release explains:

Toys“R”Us® today unwrapped its 2013 holiday marketing plans, including a new TV campaign that will allow parents and gift-givers to experience the magic of Toys“R”Us through children’s eyes. The broadcast commercial, which began airing on Sunday, October 20, takes viewers on an amusing and moving journey, as a group of children who think they’re going on a field trip to “Meet the Trees” wind up at The World’s Greatest Toy Store™ with free rein of the endless aisles of fun at their fingertips. The sheer delight captured during this real-life, surprise trip shines a spotlight on the company’s ability to help make kids’ wishes come true…. As a fun play on words, the commercials also feature the hashtag, #WishinAccomplished.

#Fail. And seriously, Toys ‘R’ Us, “#WishinAccomplished”??? I guess the marketing, PR, and online wizards at the company are all twenty-somethings who are unaware that the term “mission accomplished” has kind of been tarnished forever by our last president’s premature victory lap during what turned out to be the early stages of the Iraq War:


So if you have any comments on this ad, let the company know using their own hashtag #WishinAccomplished. Hopefully their foray into twitter will work out for them as well as that whole #AskJPM hashtag did for JPMorgan.