NEW YORK - A Hoover executive whose wife and mother are big fans of two ABC soap operas that were canceled last week said he is yanking the vacuum-maker's ads from the network in protest.
Hoover marketing executive Brian Kirkendall's actions have becoming a rallying point for fans of "All My Children" and "One Life to Live." ABC said last week it will end the daytime dramas, each on the air for more than 40 years, and replace them with cooking and weight-loss shows.
The number of people who said they "liked" Hoover on Facebook has jumped from around 7,000 to more than 11,000 people in a day since Kirkendall announced his move on the social media site. A columnist for Soap Opera Digest also asked fans to make Friday a "buy Hoover day" to support the company.
"It was about as innocent as you can imagine something starting," Kirkendall said on Tuesday. "Now I feel like I'm in the middle of a movement."
Kirkendall said he was visiting his ill mother in North Carolina over the weekend and mentioned that the shows were being canceled. She reminded him that, as a toddler, Kirkendall would sit on the couch beside his mother as she folded laundry and watched the soap operas.
His wife was angry about the cancelations, too.
Hoover is one of many companies to advertise on the programs, and soap opera fans have started a grass roots movement to contact advertisers about the decision, said Carolyn Hinsey, columnist for Soap Opera Digest.
Kirkendall said he was overwhelmed by the number of calls Hoover received Monday.
"I'm not trying to be a martyr," Kirkendall said. "I'm just reacting to what our consumers said."
He said that as steward of Hoover's brand identity, he made the decision before consulting with upper executives. But they seemed pleased by the amount of attention the decision was drawing.
ABC had no comment on the action on Tuesday, a spokeswoman said.
Hoover, a brand owned by Techtronic Industries Co., had bought time for six ads this week, four of them on soap operas, Kirkendall said. He would not detail how much money in ad spending Hoover had committed to ABC before this protest.
Hinsey suggested in a blog on Tuesday that consumers should buy Hoover vacuum cleaners, vacuum bags or other products on Friday and post their actions on Hoover's website.
"Hoover couldn't pay a PR person to get them the goodwill that they have gotten in the last 24 hours," Hinsey said. She said protesters should keep their actions positive, but suggested soap opera fans interested in next week's British royal wedding might want to watch some other network than ABC.
Kirkendall also wrote on Hoover's Facebook site that the company is setting up an email address for fans of the shows to express their concerns.
The decision by ABC means that by next year, "General Hospital" will be its only daytime drama on the air.