Poopy diapers and mashed peas: How Babies R Us plans to reach millennial parents through its biggest ever rebrand

babies r us

Babies R Us

Nutrition author and TV host Daphne Oz at the Babies R Us rebrand party

You may never be truly prepared for all that parenthood entails, but you can be "prepared-ish."

At least that's what Babies R Us, Toys R Us' sub-brand geared toward toddlers and parents of toddlers, is promising consumers as a part of its biggest ever rebrand and marketing push since its inception in over two decades ago 1996.

The makeover kicked into effect on Friday, with a fresh brand vision, tagline, plans to revamp its digital app and stores and an overarching advertising campaign to go with it all.

The refresh is a departure from the "perfect" way that the brand has traditionally portrayed parenting, with the new positioning not shying away from and incorporating the realities of parenting - from the poopy diapers to the mashed peas.

"There has been a tendency to portray everything as being perfect, but the new generation of parents doesn't subscribe to that. In fact there has been a backlash," said Carla Zakhem-Hassan, Toys R Us and Babies R Us' chief marketing officer. "Our vision is to be parents' best friend, not just tug at their heartstrings and sell products, but also offer them advice."

To that end, the Wayne, NJ-based brand has rolled out "Be Prepared-ish," a brand-new digital-first campaign created with ad agency BBDO. The campaign includes a digital video that will be promoted across social channels and on the brand's owned sites as well as digital ads across social media and parenting blogs and websites. At the rebrand party in New York City on Friday, the brand also ran a Snapchat geofilter.

The campaign also consists of a social media campaign featuring 20 influencers, including the likes of nutrition author and TV host Daphne Oz and actress Jenny Mollen. In addition, diversity is a key pillar for the brand's positioning and voice moving forward, said Zakhem-Hassan, as parents today hardly look the same as they did twenty years ago.

"They can be a man and a woman, a single parent and same-sex parents," she said. "We're not just paying lip-service to diversity, we're about being a reflection of the consumer."

The brand will also launch a social media campaign where it will ask people to share their unexpected parent moments and stories using the hashtag #iwasntpreparedfor. The idea is to use the hashtag as a listening tool to weigh in with advice and suggestions that consumers may be seeking and in the form of relevant content.

"If our vision is to be a best friend, then we have got to be there in terms of everything, even if that means becoming a publisher," said Zakhem-Hassan.

Aside from the need to remain relevant, the objective behind the rebrand is to ultimately drive sales. The brand has been facing increasing competition, particularly with e-commerce retailers like Amazon entering the fray. Toys R Us reported a 1.4% decline in same-store sales last year, while net sales were down 2.2% over 2015 to $11.5 million.

Zakhem-Hassan said that the chain's new focus will make it well-positioned to combat its competitors.

"This is about building brand affinity and driving sales," she said.

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