Spokesanimals in the Digital Age

Geoffrey the Giraffe - April the Giraffe

What’s the only thing more beautiful than the miracle of birth? The miracle of synergistic sponsorship opportunities.

You may or may not know that the official Toys “R” Us spokesanimal is Geoffrey the Giraffe. (Yes, they actually call him a “spokesanimal.”) He’s been the face of Toys “R” Us, and an outspoken advocate for animal rights in advertising, since 1965. That’s four years before Wilford Brimley’s first foray into showbiz. So yeah, Geoffrey the Giraffe is an institution.

Or, at least, was an institution.

You also may or may not know that April the Giraffe – no relation to Geoffrey – recently went viral after a New York zoo started a live stream to follow her pregnancy. For months, millions of people watched April walk around in circles as they waited to see the aforementioned miracle of birth.

april the giraffe - toys r us - stream

Oh wait, what’s that? In the corner of the screen?

toys r us sponsor - april the giraffe

Ahh yes, Toys “R” Us sponsoring a stream of a giraffe giving birth. Because, like, Geoffrey is a giraffe and April is also a giraffe. That’s the good stuff.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE:

april the giraffe baby - babies r us

Hoo boy, after April finally gave birth to her baby giraffe, the Toys “R” Us logo changed to a Babies “R” Us logo. Sorry Geoffrey, there’s a new spokesanimal in town.

There’s something to be said about leveraging 50 years of established brand equity to capitalize on the latest internet sensation, but the real achievement here was all about attitude. Toys “R” Us didn’t take themselves too seriously. Geoffrey the Giraffe outlasted Lincoln Logs, G.I. Joe and Pokemon cards, and … so what? In the age of memes, when a Pepsi commercial catastrophically fails due to phony earnestness and opportunistic activism, you should embrace play. Because you’re gonna be a punchline either way.

And I mean, come on, Toys “R” Us crushed this. They plastered their logo, prominently featuring their own giraffoid spokesanimal, on a stream of a pregnant giraffe. It was heavy handed, sure, but the knowing wink made the whole thing glorious.

Take notes, folks. That’s how you do Beyoncé numbers.

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