Toys "R" Us Catalogs Put R.R. Donnelley to the Test

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R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co., Chicago, recently printed 56 million Toys "R" Us catalogs that were distributed as Sunday newspaper inserts in major markets on Nov. 5.


The company this week called the job one of the more sophisticated that it had done in recent years because of the sheer size of the press run and because the 68-page catalogs were bound and involved small, interactive design features such as peel-off stickers.


The press run was six times larger than the average order for RRD Direct, R.R. Donnelley's direct mail arm. RRD Direct used more than 85,000 pounds of glue and 11,000 tons of paper on the catalogs. In addition, the press run took 45 days to complete.


"What was probably most unique about this piece for us was the fact that we had to bind the cover with the body," said Steve Zuccarini, president of the company's Merchandise Media Group. "Normally there isn't so much binding involved with [inserts]."


Toys "R" Us and RRD Direct began technical and creative discussions concerning the catalog -- dubbed the Big Toy Book -- last spring. The Toys "R" Us design team eventually selected a cover, featuring the toy Geoffrey the Giraffe holding a gift, which is an image that peels open to reveal a savings coupon that can be redeemed at the toy retailer's stores or on its Web site.


The cover also features a pull-tab panel that includes the savings coupon as well as 30 stickers for children with messages such as "Cool toy!", "Love it!" and "I really want it!" The stickers are to be affixed to toys featured in the catalog.


"There are so many gimmicks out there to choose from and other ideas were discussed," Zuccarini said. "But [Toys "R" Us] decided the sticker was the one they needed to do."


Page 3 of the catalog contains coupons and special offers that can be redeemed at Toys "R" Us' 1,559 locations worldwide as well as at toysrus.com. Visitors to toysrus.com are taken to a site co-branded with Amazon.com, Seattle, which will handle the toy retailer's customer service and fulfillment functions.


Toys "R" Us, Paramus, NJ, put out more than 60 million holiday catalog inserts during the first weekend of November last year, creating a response to its Web site -- prior to this year's co-branding with Amazon -- that drew more visitors than its servers could handle. The company's much-publicized e-fulfillment failures followed the server overload.


Peggy Foxman, director of marketing and print production at Toys "R" Us, was unavailable for comment.


However, a company spokesman said Amazon's Web servers and back-end services would improve Toys "R" Us' e-fulfillment during the holiday season.

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