Elaine Kubik, a 26-year-old who grew up all over the U.S. in a military family, goes online every day and pretends to be a middle-aged British male gnome.
FORT WORTH, Texas — Elaine Kubik, a 26-year-old who grew up all over the U.S. in a military family, goes online every day and pretends to be a middle-aged British male gnome.
Her job: Create the online persona for Travelocity’s Roaming Gnome on Facebook and Twitter.
“It would seem with the age and the gender that it’s completely opposite, but I feel like I share some of the same characteristics as him,” said Kubik, who has handled social-media duties at Travelocity for the past year and a half. “I love traveling, and the gnome loves traveling.”
Kubik often takes the gnome with her on business trips. Last month, the gnome went to Australia, and Kubik posted photos on Facebook of the gnome on the Sydney Harbour Bridge and in front of the Sydney Opera House.
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And on Sunday evenings, she tweets the gnome’s live reactions to “The Amazing Race,” a reality-TV show that Travelocity has sponsored for 14 seasons.
A few weeks ago, the contestants were sliding Travelocity gnomes across an ice rink to hit a bull’s-eye target in Bavaria.
“I think I’ve reinvented curling!” the gnome tweeted after his guest appearance.
Most of Kubik’s posts and tweets are travel-related, although she infuses them with the occasional British idiom from a mini-dictionary given to her from the company’s previous gnome handler, who was British.
“He’s just trying to be witty and funny and tries to connect with people,” said Kubik, who sometimes calls followers and friends “pickles” mainly because she personally likes pickles.
Travelocity launched the Roaming Gnome as its brand icon in 2003, featuring him in TV and radio ads. Senior marketing manager Karrie Fox said Travelocity created the gnome to be “a fellow traveler” and to build a relationship with its customers.
Fox, who approves all of the gnome’s appearances in The Amazing Race, said there are a few rules for the gnome, mainly that he is a statue.
“He doesn’t move. So even though you see him or you hear him talk or you might hear him have an action, like pitter-patter or typing, when you see him, he’s always solid form,” Fox said. “Because he’s a statue as well, you can’t change his clothes.”