Wendall and Al
Wendall and Al were non-morphic, though able to speak fluent English. Wendell was the more cautious of the two and spoke in a whiny tone, whilst Al was more confident and had a deeper voice.
La-Z-Boy Incorporated was founded in 1927 by cousins Edward M. Knabusch and Edwin J. Shoemaker. Headquartered in Monroe, Michigan, U.S.A., the company has since grown to be the United States' largest manufacturer of upholstered furniture. and the world's leading producer of reclining chairs.
Wendall and Al first appeared in 1996, in a thirty-second television commercial designed to highlight the fact that La-Z-Boy made furnishings other than their well-known recliners. In the commercial, the two raccoons break into a house whilst its owners are on vacation, in order to make themselves comfortable on the chairs and sofas. Wendall comments, "I just thought they made recliners", to which Al reponds, "It's a common misconception among raccoons".
In 1999, Wendall and Al returned for a second thirty-second commercial. Climbing down a tree to a window sill, the raccoons longingly peered in at a warm, well-furnished room. As they did so, the pair sung a fragment of Wouldn't It Be Loverly, the song written by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe for the 1956 Broadway play My Fair Lady. This was the first time an advertiser had been granted a license to use a Lerner and Loewe show tune.
Behind the scenes
The Wendall and Al commercials were created by the Doner U.S.A. advertising agency. The trained raccoons used to film the commercials were supplied by Steve Martin's Working Wildlife company, and the post-production video effects - to make them talk and use human-like facial expressions - were done by Los Angeles-based computer animation company Rhythm & Hues.
After a positive public response to the first commercial, La-Z-Boy commissioned plush and bean-bag versions of Wendall and Al, to be used as store decorations and customer incentives. La-Z-Boy also allowed the two raccoon characters to be used in Learn How To... Be Safe With Wendall & Al, a personal safety video aimed at children.
- La-Z-Boy on Wikipedia. Retrieved May 28, 2011
- "La-Z-Boy's Wendall and Al Create Raccoon Craze Among Consumers Across The Country" - article on Furniture World. Dated November 1, 1997. Retrieved May 28, 2011
- "Our History" (1990) on the La-Z-Boy website. Retrieved May 27, 2011
- "New La-Z-Boy® Commercial Features "Loverly" Singing Creature" - article on Furniture World. Dated October 10, 1999. Retrieved May 27, 2011
- Description of "Loverly" commercial on tvspots.tv. Retrieved May 27, 2011
- Commercial Credits list for Steve Martin's Working Wildlife. Retrieved May 27, 2011
- "Marketers from Ford to La-Z-Boy are hit by a computer-aided outbreak of anthropomorphism." - article in The New York Times. Dated April 24, 1997. Retrieved May 29, 2011
- Personal Safety video list of the library of the Justice Institute of BC. Retrieved May 28, 2011