Toys R Us & Geoffrey – The Perfect Brand Icon?


One of the most erroneous factors reported as being partly responsible for the downfall of Toys R Us concerns Geoffrey – Toys R Us’ long term brand icon/mascot.

Our company supplies brand consultancy to toy companies/brands. We often use Geoffrey as a best practise example for brand iconography. Here’s what good brands/brand icons should feature in the toy space & why Geoffrey is such a good example of this:

1. LIKEABLE– this is especially important for a toy brand.

2. PERSONA FITS WITH BRAND – in this case: fun, warmth, cuddlyness!

3. DISTINCTIVE< OWNABLE & PROTECTIVE – while we’re not qualified to make a legal assessment of how protectable Geoffrey is, there can’t be many giraffes with such a long neck, that stylised face and stars across their face – in our opinion Geoffrey is very distinctive!

4. ICONIC WITH HERITAGE – Geoffrey has been around in some form since the 1960s, although he started with the name of Dr. G. Raffe! Therefore he rates highly for heritage, and is as iconic a toy masoct/brand icon as can be found.

In so many ways Geoffrey is synonomous with Toys R Us, having hugely enriched their advertising strategy & recall for decades. The idea therefore expressed by some that Geoffrey is an anachronistic symbol of what went wrong with Toys R Us is miles away from the reality based on our experience managing and consulting on some of the biggest brands in toys. Geoffrey is a huge part of what Toys R Us did right for a long time…

…but let’s look at this from another angle – the idea that Geoffrey is old hat and therefore bad for the brand or the companies’ success.

Let’s look at Disney – and the ultimate Disney brand icon – Mickey Mouse…Mickey is heading towards 90 years of age now – he dates back to just before the great depression, before World War 2, and is in fact still the ultimate brand icon at the heart of the most successful kids entertainment brand owner ever, despite advancing years.

Sometimes brand mascots/icons need updating, but sometimes they are just a convenient scapegoat for ill informed media outlets looking for easy headlines and copy!

Viva Toys R Us, Viva Geoffrey!


by Steve Reece, CEO of Kids Brand Insight,  a leading toy expert consultancy to toy companies around the world. Specialties include Sourcing/factory finding, brand development and product representation.