The Sit 'n Sleep mattress company has confessed to a king-sized felony: The murdering off of Irwin the Accountant, the besieged character who had appeared in a series of near-folkloric radio and TV ads over the years. SnS's format was simple: Company president Larry Miller would ebulliently announce the stores' latest sales, prompting the penny-pinching Irwin to scream the catchphrase, “You're killing me, Larry!”
According to a Daily Breeze report (flagged by L.A. Observed), the Gardena-based company is rolling out a new ad campaign that features only Miller — gone is the banter between Miller and real-life accountant Irwin Zigmond. That shtick, with its roots in Vaudeville and Yiddish theater, had endeared the two to millions of Angelenos — and made SnS commericials among of the most recognizable in Southern California. Apparently, the new campaign is geared to more educational content that features dust mites replacing Irwin's anguished cry with, “You're killing us, Larry!”
In the Breeze piece Miller seems to hold out a glimmer of hope that Irwin might return if the ads flop.
“You never know how the public will react,” Miller is quoted. “And if
they hate it and there's a backlash, then I could go back.”
fact, the history of advertising is filled with such comebacks. In 1995
faltering Jack in the Box gambled by bringing back its signature clown
figure as Jack the CEO — whom the company had blown up in 1980. Then
there was the great Pep Boys scare of 1952, when, during a good-will
tour in the USSR, only Manny Rosenfeld and Moe Strauss appeared on
Lenin's tomb during a parade review. It was only after a huge public
outcry that Jack Jackson was rehabilitated and rejoined the troika of
Manny, Moe and Jack.