NEW YORK — Chuck E. Cheese has been given the pink slip.
The company that operates the chain of children’s pizza restaurants is retiring the giant rodent’s outdated image — and the man who voiced its character for nearly two decades. CEC Entertainment Inc. says it plans to launch a national ad campaign Thursday with a revamped image of Chuck E. Cheese as a hip, electric-guitar-playing rock star.
It’s just the latest makeover for the 35-year-old mascot, which started life as a New Jersey rat who sometimes carried a cigar.
CEC Entertainment, based in Irving, Texas, is struggling to revive sales at its more than 500 pizza restaurants, which offer games, prizes and a musical variety show.
In May, CEC said revenue at its locations open at least a year fell 4.2 percent in the first quarter. The company also lowered its outlook for the year, citing factors such as higher prices for cheddar cheese and rent.
According to ShowbizPizza.com, a Chuck E. Cheese fan site, the man who voiced the mascot in commercials since 1993 learned of his replacement after coming across “Chuck’s Hot New Single” online and realizing it was sung by someone else. The fan site this week published a Facebook post by Duncan Brannan, the mascot’s former voice.
The new Chuck E. Cheese will be voiced by Jaret Reddick, the lead singer for the pop-punk bank Bowling for Soup.