Toys R Us debuts an all-AI created ad 

By April Berthene

July 10, 2024
toys r us generative ai ad

Toy company Toys R Us debuted a brand video almost completely created with generative artificial intelligence.  

The one-minute video portrays a boy in the 1930s dreaming of a toy store with a female voice telling the origin story of Toys R Us. The boy depicts Toys R Us founder Charles Lazarus and how he came up with the idea for the brand and its mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe.   

Toys R Us Studios created this brand video mostly using generative artificial intelligence.

Entertainment arm Toys R Us Studios and creative agency Native Foreign developed the video using Sora, the text-to-video tool from artificial intelligence company OpenAI. Sora creates realistic imagery from text instructions, according to OpenAI’s website. OpenAI also developed the popular generative AI chatbot ChatGPT.  

Toys R Us unveiled the video at the 2024 Cannes Lions Festival in June in France.  

Generative AI saves time for marketers

It took only a few weeks to create the video, condensing hundreds of iterative shots down to a couple dozen, according to Toys R Us’ announcement. The AI created most of the film, although the company also used some corrective visual effects and original music.  

Using generative AI for images and videos can save retailers on the costs of real-life video production, said Kassi Socha a director analyst at research firm Gartner.

“GenAI can drive significant time savings and broaden the creative horizon of designers and marketers to ideas not yet conceived,” Socha said. “This in turn can enable greater scale in asset deployment, multivariate testing and personalization.”

Marketers that need lots of creative but have limited budget could benefit from using generative AI for video content, Socha said.

“For brands with strong IP to train a model on brand positioning and differentiation, and a need for a high volume of creative but limited creative budgets, experimenting with GenAI to produce video content should be considered,” Socha said.

With this time savings from using generative AI, marketers should shift their budgets to content distribution from creation, Socha said. Marketers that were more focused on in-person production will need to learn to be strategists, editors and directors in this new medium, she said.

Marketers should exercise caution with generative AI advertisements

Marketers should disclose when they use generative artificial intelligence to create audio or video, especially when its looks and sounds realistic, Socha said. And a human should always edit the content for accuracy and to ensure there is no IP-infringement.

Before a spot goes live and brands put investment behind a commercial, marketers should test consumer engagement and reaction to the video.

More retail marketers tap into generative AI

Toys R Us is among a growing group of companies, such as Starburst and TikTok, that are using generative AI to create video imagery for ads. And plenty more retailers have used generative AI to enhance their marketing efforts, such as writing email newsletter subject lines and creating models.

In fact, 90% of retailers will deploy GenAI in one or more use cases in the next two years, according to a June 2023 Gartner survey of 405 global brand marketers. Plus, 31% of retail marketing technology leaders think GenAI will provide the most benefit if deployed to support advertising creative or treatments.

Toys R Us recent history

The toy company used to operate a fleet of stores before declaring bankruptcy and shuttering its hundreds of stores in 2018. Since then, brand management firm WHP Global acquired Toys R Us to add to its portfolio, which includes apparel brands Rag & bone, Express, Bonobos, Anne Klein and others. Toys R Us is now opening more physical locations, with a footprint in all 452 U.S. Macy’s stores, as well as in airports.