With New Agency, Orkin Bids Ned, The Orkin Man Adieu

National pest-control company Orkin, a division of Atlanta-based Rollins, Inc., is relieving the Orkin Man of his duties. The character, named Ned and played by actor Wayne Thomas Yorke, is being phased out after a four-year stint. The change comes with Orkin's signing Dallas-based The Richards Group as AOR in mid-September after a four-month review. The agency replaces J. Walter Thompson, Atlanta.

Kevin Smith, CMO for the company, says that while the actor may be exiting, the character--who in one form or another has been central to advertising for years--will not.

"We would never retire the Orkin Man; it's sort of a deliberate rethink," he says. "We have used lots of different actors and characters, from a robot to thousands of Orkin men in an Orkin army, so we think we want to have an ability to expand or portray the character in other ways. And I wanted to make sure [The Richards Group] has creative flexibility."

He says that the creative evolution will be toward a message that appeals to younger consumers concerned about issues like diseases and environmental responsibility. "I think it's a combination of looking toward a new generation and reinforcing the brand. What was important then is different today; so our message needs to move."



He says Orkin will probably debut its first work from The Richards Group with the start of the bug season, at around the end of the first quarter next year. Smith says that Terminix is the other big player in the sector. However, the size of the field--there are roughly 19,000 pest-control companies--means Orkin really competes with smaller local companies, as well.

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