It’s that time of the year parents. You know the one"¦when your competition is already combing the malls of suburbia in search of the holiday must-have of 2006. 10 years ago an annoyingly giddy electronic doll named Elmo was all the rage among toddlers"”fueling mass hysteria among Santa’s little helpers (a.k.a. parents). Well those toy wizards over at Fisher-Price are at it again and have dreamt up another beauty this year.

What better way to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of parents paying hundreds of dollars for a $29 stuffed toy, than to introduce a new and improved Elmo? If you haven’t heard about him, your children or the press will let you know all about TMX (Tickle Me Extreme, or Tickle Me Elmo Ten) soon enough.

The "Extreme" moniker would aptly describe the lengths Fisher-Price has gone to in order to keep the specifics about this doll from leaking prior to its September 19th unveiling. TMX has been available for pre-order by a new generation of parents for a few months now. The chart below shows the number of online shoppers the doll has attracted at the top retailers since they began taking pre-orders.

Walmart landed most of these shoppers in March, after heavily promoting its exclusive two-week rights to take the first pre-orders. The other toy retailers joined the pre-order party in April and led to a short-lived demand spike. Interest has grown steadily since May and is certain to explode in a matter of days as a result of the hoards of press and advertising this Elmo is sure to receive beginning with its debut next week.

Will there be enough Elmos to go around this time, or will parents once again be driven to extreme measures to secure one for their child? Beats me, but as the father of an Elmo adoring 2-year old, I’d probably be wise to make the obligatory pre-order on Amazon sooner rather than later.

About Matt Pace:
As VP of Millward Brown Digital’s financial services, retail and consumer products practices, Matt is responsible for vertical growth and strategy and the delivery of digital insights and best practice marketing consulting to leading Fortune 500 advertisers. Follow Matt on Twitter @mattpace.

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