The nickname for Maytag Corporation’s advertising mascot, aka “The Maytag Repairman.” In 1967, Jesse White was hired as Maytag’s melancholy spokesperson for a series of television commercials (the first to appear on THE TODAY SHOW).
The Maytag Repairman symbolized Maytag dependability to the extent that their under-worked Maytag Repairman failed to get any repair calls, and thus became “The Loneliest Guy in Town.” The Maytag Repairman campaign was created by the Leo Burnett Advertising Agency, based in Chicago.
The Original Maytag Repairman Ad with Jesse White
[Six men in work uniforms and hats march into a room filled with appliances]
Maytag Repairman: Detail halt! Left face!
[Maytag Repairman reads off a roster]
Maytag Repairman: At ease men. Now you men have all volunteered to be Maytag Repairmen and so I’m gonna give it to you straight. Maytag washers and dryers are built to last. That makes the Maytag Repairman the loneliest guy in town.
[Maytag Repairman removes the metal cover from the front of a washing machine]
Maytag Repairman: Look at this rugged motor. This almost indestructible pump. Take a good look because most of you may never see the inside of one of these again.
[Maytag Repairman opens a small tool box and individually holds up each item inside]
Maytag Repairman: This is your survival kit. Playing cards for solitaire. Cross word puzzles. Bead work. Keep these with you at all times. OK men, wear your Maytag emblem proudly. The sign of dependable washers and dryers. So what, if nobody needs you. It takes a real man to fight off loneliness. A Maytag Repairman, heh heh…the loneliest guy in town.
In 1989, Maytag replaced Jesse White as their spokesperson (he died in Los Angeles on January 9th, 1997 at the age of 78 from cardiac arrest) and hired actor Gordon Jump who previously starred as Arthur “Big Guy” Carlson, a bumbling radio station manager on the sitcom WKRP IN CINCINNATI/CBS/1978-82.
In 2002, Maytag and Chevrolet joined forces to create a commercial featuring the both Maytag Repairmen and Chevy’s new Impala. The ad shows an Impala zig-zag through a highway filled with curves. Inside the car, the apprentice repairman (who is driving) says to the veteran repairman (Gordon Jump), “So you sure this is OK? What if someone calls?” The two look at each other, laugh out loud, eat some jerky and continue to cruise the countryside.
When Gordon Jump died on September 22, 2003 from complications from pulmonary fibrosis at age 71, actor Hardy Rawls (a former Mr. Goodwrench) took over the role as Ol’ Lonely, the Maytag Repairman who will now be partnered with a younger, eager Maytag apprentice (Mark Devine).
In 2007, Maytag conducted open auditions around the country to find the next Maytag Repairman. The winner was a Virginia man named Clay Jackson. The mission of the new Maytag repairman has shifted from someone “who had nothing to” because Maytag’s products are so reliable to a proactive repairman who finds things to repair. In one ad spot, the new Maytag Repairman finds himself inside a business office examining a photocopy machine. When approached, he says “You’re running low on toner.”
As of January 2014, actor Ferguson became Maytag’s newest “Maytag Repairman.”
Note: Prior to the Maytag Repairman, actor Tom Pedi (1913-1996) played the role of Charlie, a washing machine repairman in commercials for Dash Laundry Detergent.
On 12/1/1991, Bob Leibold as Bob’s Specialty Service in Monroe, Wisconsin started a Maytag washing machine during a Maytag promotion and expected it to run about 2 and 1/2 years. Amazingly, the machine ran until August 16, 1996 and stopped after 32,500 hours. The machine pumped over 56 cycles a day and cost about a $1 a day in electricity. Leibold calculated it was the equivalent of 193 years of use by a family of four.
Those interested in the history of Maytag washing machine can visit the Maytag Historical Display at the Jasper County Museum located about 30 miles east of Des Moines off Interstate 80 at the Iowa exit at 1700 South 15th Avenue, West in town of Newton, Iowa (once called “The Washing Machine Center of the World”).