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NOTEBOOK: Does Maytag still own the ‘face of reliability’?


On a recent Friday, I was the sole worker bee in the Business Record newsroom for part of the day as my colleagues were out of the office through a confluence of training, PTO and interviews. Passing one of our ad reps in the hallway, I commented casually: “I feel like the Maytag Repairman today.” 

She gave me a quizzical look, clearly not understanding the reference. (Coincidentally, our phone system was down at the time, making it a somewhat lonely day.) I explained the classic ad campaign based on the repairman who was lonely because Maytag appliances were so reliable no one ever called him. “Wow, I had never heard of that,” she told me. A lesson, I suppose, that what some of us may think are pretty enduring icons, particularly for Iowa, aren’t necessarily going to make a connection with everybody. 

From a Google search, I read that in 2000, Maytag had tried revamping the character, which had “stood as the symbol of dependability for over 25 years” but was losing his appeal, by adding an apprentice who represented innovation combined with reliability. So, wondering if he’s still around, I visited the Maytag website. I found the 2019 version of the Maytag Repairman was quite a contrast from the sad-looking character I grew up with. This updated guy looks a bit like a Navy SEAL team member who, like Maytag’s appliances, is “made tough as steel … strong, reliable and really good-looking.”

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