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Connie, the annoyingly prim face of AOL UK for the last five years, has been told her (virtual) services will no longer be required by the company.

The ISP has decided that the image of Connie, designed to make newbies (and parents) comfortable about venturing onto the Web, has passed her sell-by date.

Karen Thomson, head of AOL UK, told the Sunday Times that Connie is no longer appropriate for today's more experienced Net users. AOL UK has around two million members.

AOL UK is currently running ads to plug its latest AOL 8.0 software which omit Connie for the first time in five years.

Instead of the cyber genie taking centre stage, the ads feature people daydreaming about their ideal world online while sub-consciously drawing the figure eight: cre8, innov8 and communic8 etc. - you get the idea.

While AOL UK is touting version 8.0, its US parent is already provided pre-release version of AOL 9.0 to its customers.

Originally invented for just one campaign in 1998, Connie has displayed considerable staying power - despite her industry critics.

Campaign, the industry bible for the advertising trade, bestowed a Turkey of the Year award to AOL's Connie ads three years ago.

The judges said: "A prissy know-all is a strange choice to symbolise the exciting new media revolution."

Ouch.

The cyber genie, who wore a dress made of streaming web pages and sported a pudding bowl haircut, was played by actress and model Rachel Willis. Despite various suggestions from AO that her time was past, Connie continued to make regular appearances in the media promoting the online service. ®

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