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Sock Puppet Finds a New Home

Marketing: The spotted mascot for now-defunct Pets.com is coming back as spokesdog for a car-financing firm.

June 24, 2002|ANGELA WATERCUTTER | ASSOCIATED PRESS

SAN FRANCISCO — It wasn't his first job choice, but at least the Pets.com sock puppet hasn't joined the high-tech unemployment line.

One of the most recognizable icons of the dot-com era has a new agent and has inked a new deal for a California financing company.

The puppet is now represented by Hakan & Associates Inc., the same company orchestrating the comeback of Taco Bell mascot Gidgey the Famous Chihuahua. The black-and-white spotted dog puppet has just signed on as the mascot for 1-800-Bar None, a Pleasanton-based company that provides car financing for consumers with bad credit.

The sock puppet has been out of work since online pet store Pets.com was forced to shut down for lack of funds in November 2000. Hakan Enterprises Inc. bought the rights to the icon in 2001 for $125,000 during the Pets.com liquidation.

"It is not often that a company will adopt the mascot of a defunct company," said Christina Duffney of the Direct Marketing Assn. "Such a company runs the risk of being associated with a business that wasn't a success."

Duffney said the sock puppet may be a different case since it generated attention on its own and many consumers did not associate it with Pets.com. That could work in 1-800-Bar None's favor, she said.

"It will be interesting to see how the business uses the puppet and if they succeed in associating the puppet with the company," she said.

The sock puppet will be featured in a series of television ads for 1-800-Bar None beginning in July.

Jim Crouse, chief executive of 1-800-Bar None, said he hopes the sock puppet will send the company's message--everyone deserves a second chance--"cleverly and with a touch of humor."

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