(New York) Seeking to bolster sales of one of its flagship products, toy maker Tyco announced the introduction of a more serious line of Elmo characters.
"Bugger Me Elmo" offers a startling alternative to the traditional happy-go-lucky character, said Tyco Chairman and CEO Ed Breen.
"Like many children, 'Bugger Me Elmo' has had to deal with the trauma of sexual abuse," he said. "When the doll says "Elmo loves you," it really hits home with the mixed emotions and distorted boundaries traumatized kids face."
Breen said the new doll's seemingly benign comments coonotate a sinister reality.
"We test-marketed it with a bunch of sexual abuse survivors," he said. "You should have seen their reactions when Elmo busted out with: "Hi! Elmo so happy to see you!" Man, there was some real tension in that room, let me tell you."
An unintended consequence led Tyco designers to make some changes, said Breen.
"The kids in the focus groups kept ripping off the heads of 'Bugger Me Elmo,' so we had to go with a higher-gauge stitching," he said. "There is some real pain out there."