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After 46 years, Maytag is giving its familiar mascot a makeover for the first time. In a multimillion-dollar campaign that begins this week, the character will be dressed snappier; played by a more attractive, dimple-chinned, slimmer actor; and will no longer be portrayed as a repairman with nothing to do.
Instead, the rugged new Maytag Man will show up in commercials as a symbol of the machines themselves: sitting under the counter next to the sink as a woman hands him her dirtiest dishes, for example, or magically tumbling a load of laundry in midair.
1) Jesse White
Maytag introduced its spokesman as “the loneliest guy in town” in 1967, in a
campaign created by its ad agency at the time, Leo Burnett Chicago. Jesse White
played the role for more than two decades, filming 68 commercials as the character who cultivates
habits such as solitaire, crossword puzzles and bead work because he is rarely
called upon to repair a machine. He would also come to be known as “Ol’ Lonely.”
2) Gordon Jump
The actor who first became known as station manager Arthur Carlson on the sitcom
“WKRP in Cincinatti” took over the Maytag
repairman role from Jesse White in 1989 and starred in the company’s commercials until 2003.
3) Hardy Rawls
Mr. Rawls held the role for four
years, until 2007 when his contract expired and Maytag’s parent company,
Whirlpool Corp., announced a nationwide competition to replace him. At the time,
Whirlpool’s vice-president of brand marketing and communications, Jeff Davidoff, said
they were seeking a “more relevant look and contemporary feel” for the
4) Clay Jackson
After a cross-country search, Mr. Jackson was named
the new Maytag repairman in April, 2007.
He made ads for the
company (including in Canada)
until now. This week, Maytag revealed a new actor and a whole new take on its
iconic spokesman. In 2007, Whirlpool’s Mr. Davidoff was already hinting that the company was
trying to change the repairman’s image, saying
that he would be portrayed more as “out and about because he wants to fix
5) The new guy
The new Man, played by Colin Ferguson, is slimmer, with a darker blue and more tailored uniform. The company says it wants to take the focus
off the repairman as a character all his own – making public appearances, for
example, as his predecessor did – to seeing him more as a symbol of the machines
themselves. “Ol’ Lonely” is now younger,
fitter, and at least for now, anonymous.
The new Maytag Man is not the only younger model to wear the blue uniform. In
2001, the company introduced a handsome young apprentice, played by Mark Devine, to star in ads alongside Gordon Jump (and
then Hardy Rawls.) His character was
discontinued in 2005.
For years, the repairman’s only company was his dog, a bassett hound. The dog was named Newton after the
town in Iowa where Fred Maytag built his first washing machines and where the
company’s headquarters were located before it was acquired by Whirlpool Corp.