Monday, June 18 2018 23:01

Toys "R" Us Canada Seeks New "Chief Play Officer" as the U.S. Saga Gets Extended...

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As the saga of Toys "R" Us here in the United States just continues to drone along, it appears that the much-anticipated June 18th intellectual property auction has failed to happen. As filed on June 11, an extension was being sought that would place the auction on August 6, dragging things out for nearly two more months. Up north, however, things are looking bright for the folks at Toys "R" Us Canada, and they've wasted no time in getting things back to fun - welcoming customers with a message that they're "here to play, here to stay!"  With that comes a search for a "fun, energetic tween who loves to play with toys" as TRU Canada kicks off the search for its next Chief Play Officer (CPO). As the spokesperson for Canada's leading dedicated toy product retailer, the CPO is the toy expert for Toys "R" Us Canada and gets to share expert recommendations on the hottest toys and trends with parents and gift-givers from coast-to-coast.

In a statement, the retailer revealed that "the CPO search comes as Toys "R" Us Canada's current Chief Play Officer, Émile Burbidge, prepares to retire so he can focus on high school. Émile became CPO in 2016 and will continue in his role until the end of the year when he will share the most sought-after holiday toys on Toys "R" Us Canada's Hot Toy List."

"Toys "R" Us Canada is here to play and here to stay, and as part of this commitment we are excited to announce that we are hiring our next Chief Play Officer," said Melanie Teed-Murch, President, Toys "R" Us Canada. "This is one of the most exciting positions in our company because there is no better way for us to know our consumers and Canadian children than to have one as a trusted advisor. Our current CPO, Émile, has been a great champion of play over the last two years and we are excited to have him help us find the next incredible child to fill the role."

The job will begin in January after the busy holiday season. In order to become an authority on toys, the CPO receives deliveries throughout the year so that he or she can try the hottest toys before they hit store shelves.  To understand how the toys work, the CPO receives seasonal toy training with the toy vendors. The CPO's responsibilities include checking out the most sought-after toys, serving as a Toys "R" Us Canada spokesperson, sharing the latest toy trends through online videos and travelling across Canada for media appearances. The CPO also regularly takes part in videos and events to promote new toys.

"My experience being the Chief Play Officer for Toys "R" Us Canada can be summed up in three words…dream come true," said Burbidge. "I've had an awesome time travelling all over Canada to cities like Vancouver and Ottawa and talking and playing with the newest and best toys. It's now time to pass the toy box over to the newest CPO and I can't wait to get the search started. For kids who love to play this is an opportunity not to be missed." 

If you live in Canada and have a kid who's ready for the best job in the world, check out the official CPO search website, and be sure to read the official rules for all the details on how to submit.

More Updates on Toys "R" Us in the United States:

  • While the IP auction got pushed back, on the upside, those representing what's left of the company said in court documents that they've been in contact with over 115 potential purchasers of Intellectual Property Assets, "including major retailers, infant and juvenile consumer products businesses, brand buying and e-commerce organizations, and short-term strategic partners and has had substantive communication with over 85 of such parties." I do know a few of them, and the next few weeks could get really interesting.
  • What happens to all the private label goods? TRU made a huge push toward in-house brands in recent years, and that's put suppliers in a jam thanks to the bankruptcy. One such company is Huffy, who supplied private-label bikes and ride-on products under the Rallye and Avigo names. RetailDive uncovered a filing in which Huffy noted that canceled purchase orders left them sitting with over $500,000.00 worth of TRU-branded bikes that have now been sitting in storage at a cost of $575 a day.  They're now allowed to sell the bikes, but the court says that they have to remove any TRU labels or IP... so Huffy still gets stiffed.
  • The giant statue of Geoffrey the Giraffe from the Toys "R" Us Global Resource Center in Wayne, NJ has a home... but it was a harder sell than originally thought. While the statue was up for sale for $3K to employees or $6K to external buyers, it's size, weight and the logistics of removing, shipping and re-mounting it turned out to be pretty costly. Fortunately, a group of kind people chipped in and the Bristol-Myer's Squibb Children's Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ will soon become the permanent home for the smiling icon. Fortune first reported the story.
  • Many Toys "R" Us locations are down to their final days, with countdown signage in place. I visited our local store in Gurnee, Illinois the other day and it was in sad shape. Most of what was left was from the "augmented" merchandise shipments, and they'd begun selling their staff uniforms.

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Stay tuned for a Toys "R" Us Exclusive coming to The Rock Father™ Magazine in the days ahead!

James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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