Thursday, April 28, 2011

Remembering - The Empire Carpet Man

Tuesday marked the end of an era as Elmer Lynn Hauldren  passed away at age 89.  Hauldren is best known as the Empire Carpet Man, a role he played for decades.  He was also a decorated war veteran and a member of Chordiac Arrest.

Hauldren worked for Empire as a copywriter, when in 1973 he wrote the infectious jingle and began playing the role in commercials.  Generations of television viewers know that jingle and the bespectacled Hauldren's  grandfatherly visage.  "5-8-8-2-3-Hundred Empiiiiire"

As a young lad growing up in Tucson I have fond memories of seeing that commercial when I watched The Rockford Files and The Odd Couple in the afternoons during summer vacation.  It was always a nice change from generic local commercials.

I couldn't care less about carpet or carpeting, but that jingle was catchy.  Even at the time the jingle sounded like something from a bygone era.  It's throwback quality is what makes it timeless.  I was so attached to it that I begrudged them when they added the "800" to the beginning of the jingle.

Hauldren's passing marks the end of an era for a couple of reasons.  Firstly jingles are very much a thing of the past.  Most ad campaigns today are centered on trying to be quirky, funny or witty or possibly comparing one product to the competition.  The Empire Carpet campaign was just about the product and the service and the damn catchy jingle.

Secondly company spokespeople rarely have an "everyman quality" about them.  Hauldren possessed that in spades.  Now if a company has a spokesperson their either ironic or a celebrity.

And finally Empire Carpets is an example of a company that began regionally and spread nationally.  In this economy and with the nation much smaller via the internet, there's little chance another company experiencing growth like that and seeping into the national consciousness again.

I don't know about you, but from now whenever I think carpet, I'll certainly think Empire and Elmer Lynn Hauldren.

Here's WGN's obituary;

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