By Dan Mitchell
August 5, 2011

FORTUNE — What’s become of the Road Runner? The longtime mascot, and namesake, of Time Warner Cable’s (TWC) high-speed Internet service is fading into the background, replaced by the line drawing of a human eye and ear that is used to promote TWC’s cable-TV and phone services.

It’s all part of a “brand-refresh” strategy, says Jeannette Castaneda, a TWC spokeswoman. The idea is to “create excitement around the eye-ear symbol,” she said. The eye-ear symbol, though, is a simple line drawing that looks a bit like a child’s notebook doodle. Is that really more exciting than a lunatic, speed-freak, Technicolor desert bird?

I wanted to ask about this, but TWC declined to make someone available who was involved in the decision to make the change.

Road Runner, of course, is the famous Warner Bros. cartoon character, the ornithological bane of Wile E. Coyote’s existence. In 2009, TWC was spun out from Time Warner (TWX) (owner of Fortune.com) as a separate company, but TWC licenses its name, and the Road Runner character, from Time Warner.

Dull line-drawing or not, it makes sense for TWC to want to unify its brand image across all its platforms. When Road Runner was introduced in the ’90s, it was a standalone product. Now, it’s all about bundling. TWC likes to sell packages of Internet access, cable TV, and phone services, and the Road Runner was the mascot for just the Internet service. Furthermore, back then, most people were still on dialup, so speed was the main selling point for cable-modem Internet services. Now, high-bandwidth service is widespread. (Castaneda, though, said that this latter point was “absolutely not” a reason for the change.)

There’s one other point that might or might not have played a role in the mascot’s demise. TWC, like other big ISPs, is a leading proponent of imposing bandwidth caps on its Internet users. Imagine the possibilities for illustrating articles about this topic – Wile E Coyote (perhaps wearing a TWC ballcap) tripping up the Road Runner with piano wire, or finally getting his revenge and hurling the obnoxious bird off a cliff.

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