Even though we haven’t yet had Halloween, retail brands are gearing up for the holiday season. Target raised eyebrows by releasing its holiday TV commercial before Halloween, which is the marketing equivalent of wearing white after Labor Day in the U.S. But even that hoary old rule no longer applies, so get ready for the holiday blitz to start earlier than ever this year.
Toys “R” Us is already promoting its Marine Toys for Tots Foundation campaign, which is back for the ninth year with Shaquille O’Neal ("Give Back With Shaq!" for the fourth year) offering “Shaq’s Santa Sack,” the first-ever Toys for Tots Wish List filled with donation suggestions.
More than 16 million children are living in poverty in the U.S. according to the United States Census Bureau, and now through December 2, consumers can “Give Back with Shaq” by donating new, unwrapped toys at Toys“R”Us and Babies “R” Us stores or online through Christmas Eve.
Last year’s campaign, the most successful to date, raised $4 million and collected about 400,000 toys. The Toys"R"Us Children’s Fund, a public charity affiliated with Toys“R”Us, Inc., has jumpstarted this year’s campaign with a $250,000 grant to its partners at the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.
Additionally, the company has created “The 12 Days of Giving,” a viral video series where Shaq-a-Claus sings toy-inspired versions of the holiday song highlighting products to donate, that will be distributed across Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
“The joy on the face of a child tearing the wrapping paper off of a toy from under the tree is undeniable. That’s why we’re encouraging Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us customers nationwide to donate — every toy and dollar counts!” said Lt. Gen Pete Osman, USMC (Ret), President and CEO, Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.
Tapping into the generosity of the season without being a holiday campaign, IKEA this week kicks off its third annual Life Improvement Project, offering inspiration from the public for homes and lives. Every project submitted or shared triggers an IKEA contribution of $1 (up to $50,000) to Save the Children’s Early Steps for School Success program.
TV journalist Lisa Ling has signed on with IKEA as its ambassador for the program, along with a team of home experts including entertainment expert Amy Atlas, interior designer Erin Gates, green home guru Cathy Hobbs, and master life coach Susan Hyatt.
To submit a project, choose a virtual room, write a short blurb, share photos or videos and watch the virtual “Life Improvement House” populate while consumers have weekly and monthly opportunities to win IKEA gift cards.
“Throughout the project, we’ll be collecting and sharing inspirational stories, something I’m very familiar with as a journalist,” said Ling, whose most recent own life improvement project was building the first LEED Platinum-certified home in Santa Monica, CA. “By participating, you’re not only bettering your own home but also helping children in need.”
As part of an ongoing commitment to the utility and aesthetics in all home spaces, IKEA’s “Life Improvement Challenge” encourages co-workers to support local community projects and IKEA will provide $500,000 worth of home furnishings, services, design expertise and manpower to the initiative. Co-worker teams submit project proposals and consumers will vote and choose the top 38 projects with voting starting in February and winners announced in the spring.