588-2300, Empire

If you’ve lived in Chicagoland any time since the late 1970s, a certain phone number will be very familiar to you… 588-2300. Empire!

It’s the number for Empire Carpet (now known as Empire Today), and it’s been drilled into the brains of TV-watching Chicagoans since 1977, when the company began running their popular commercial spots featuring “Empire Carpet Man” Lynn Hauldren. Thanks to the commercial and its catchy jingle, Hauldren quickly became a Chicago icon.

Chicagoans all over the world have been saddened to learn that Lynn Hauldren died on April 26, 2011.

Hauldren – a WWII veteran, barbershop quartet singer, and resident of Chicago suburb Evanston – didn’t land the commercial gig as a seasoned professional actor. In fact, he was working as an advertising copywriter for Empire when a new ad series was proposed back in 1977. When the company couldn’t agree on the right actor, Hauldren stepped in… and a legend was born. In addition to becoming the company’s most famous face, Hauldren wrote the music for the jingle, ensuring that Empire’s phone number would never be forgotten.

Empire’s commercials have continued to feature Hauldren’s voice – and his cartoon likeness – until the present day. We hope Empire will continue to run the ads, and keep the Empire Carpet Man alive for years to come.