Games Afoot At Toys ‘R’ Us

New Ad Boss at Client Will Examine Agency Resources
NEW YORK–Embattled retail giant Toys ‘R’ Us last week brought in Warren Kornblum as its new chief marketing officer. Kornblum said he will begin to take stock of all supplier resources, including its ad agency partnerships.
Kornblum, a senior vice president at the Paramus, N.J.-based company, inherited Quantum Media International, which handles media planning and buying duties, and New York creative shop The Kaplan Thaler Group. Sources said Kornblum has already started a media review, an assertion he denied.
“Despite all the reports of the brand in trouble, it’s still a profitable company with a 50-year heritage,” said Kornblum. “I’m excited about the opportunity. The glass is definitely half full here.”
Kornblum said the retailer will focus on broadening its appeal beyond “hot toys and Christmas” and making the chain “a part of the fabric” of consumers’ lives.
Kornblum said a fall rollout of new ads was planned, but would not specify a budget. Toys ‘R’ Us traditionally spends $50-75 million annually.
Kornblum replaces Ernie Speranza, who was named senior vice president of international marketing. Kornblum was previously a managing partner at Bozell Worldwide and helped run its retail unit and Bell Atlantic Mobile business.
Although still the world’s largest toy retailer, Toys ‘R’ Us has lost market share to competitors Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target. In 1990, its stores accounted for 25 percent of all toys sold; in 1997, that figure dropped to 18.4 percent–just 2 percent ahead of Wal-Mart. Toys ‘R’ Us stock closed at $16.75 on Friday, down 3/4s after a day of moderate trading. The stock has lost about half its value since last January, when it sold at $32.75.