It's been a rough week for advertising icons. Not only was their annual "Walk of Fame" down Madison Avenue unceremoniously discontinued, but emcee Jonah Bloom kicked off the "Do Icons Drive Brands?" panel with an insult.

"This is the nadir of my journalistic career," quipped the editor of Advertising Age to a panel that featured the Maytag Repairman, the Travelocity Roaming Gnome, the Serta Sheep and two Chick-Fil-A Cows holding signs that read "Eat Mor Chikin."

Despite Bloom's less-than-welcoming remarks, the icons and their more articulate counterparts -- the brands' marketing officers -- were eager to counter the idea that they were any less effective now than in the past.

"We're quite proud of him," Jeff Glueck, the CMO of Travelocity, said of his company's icon. Glueck's pride is not misplaced: Before adopting the Roaming Gnome, Travelocity's revenue grew at 2% annually; since doing so,it has gained between 25% and 37% over each of the last eight quarters. "We had something really magical," Glueck said.

But increasing the bottom line isn't the only reason for developing an icon for advertising campaigns. Geraldine Ford-Brown, who oversees marketing for Mr. Goodwrench, said that the company's icon personalized the brand and improved morale among her company's dealerships.

"Mr. Goodwrench became more than just one person, it represented over 100,000 dealers," she said.

Jeffrey Davidoff, the chief marketer for Whirlpool's North American consumer brands, added that the Maytag repairman helps differentiate the brand in a competitive, cluttered environment.

"We don't have any problems with brand linkage. Nobody sees our ads and wonders what company it's for," he said.

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