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New Logo Features More Backwards Letters

PARAMUS, N.J. ( — Toys "R" Us, whose famous backwards R has made it one of the most recognizable names in retailing, announced Monday it has also reversed the 'T' in Toys and the 'U' in Us, giving it three backwards letters and, claimed company executives, "three times the brand awareness."

Industry observers were skeptical of the move, with one analyst insisting that spinning the two letters around made "absolutely no difference whatsoever... right?" But TRU executives were equally insistent that the change heralded a new era for the nation's leading toy retailer.

Dramatic animation of new logo

"Turning the R around was the most important decision this company ever made," said CEO Robert Nakasone. "It made us a household name by causing consumers to do a double-take. But over time, this reversal has been taken for granted, so today we reveal that the letters beginning the two other words in our name are also backwards, a move which we expect will bring even more attention to our brand by causing consumers to do triple and quadruple takes."

While the reversal takes effect immediately, company executives conceded it will take several months to change the signage at its 1,500 stores worldwide. Nakasone said the company will take a charge in the fourth quarter to pay for the change, but declined to provide any numbers.

Analysts, however, estimate new signs alone will cost $30 million to $40 million, while printing new Geoffrey Dollars will run another $20 million. Old Geoffrey Dollars bearing the original name will be honored at all stores, a company spokesman said.

Merrill Lynch analyst Dee Sabeej said she isn't convinced the expense will be worthwhile.

"I've spent the last hour typing it out, writing it out, and doing it in my head," she said. "I've even had co-workers write it for me, but for the life of me, I can't see any difference in the old and new name. I have to conclude that either I just don't get it, or this is a remarkably stupid decision and a horrible waste of corporate resources."

However, Karl Merrifield, editor of trade magazine Toy! said that view is shortsighted.

"The key to obtaining and retaining consumer mindshare in the recreational amusements industry is to have a name that concentrates on a letter or letters," said Merrifield. "The 'R' in Toys R Us, the 'e' in eToys, the 'K-B' sound in KayBee. This strategy clearly works with consumers, and by bringing added attention to its 'T' and its 'U', Toys 'R' Us is now more letter-centric than any of its competitors."


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