The Maytag Repairman is one of the most recognized brand icons in the country, so when Whirlpool Corp. acquired Maytag in 2006 for $2.6 billion, it set out to revitalize a brand with a 100-year heritage.
Whirlpool brought on Carmichael Lynch Spong to assist the company's efforts to bring the Repairman back to the forefront.
The idea was to find a balance between the brand recognition the Repairman brings and the forward-thinking company Whirlpool wanted to be. "Marketing leadership [determined] that we need to keep one foot in the past and in the heritage, and one foot in the future," says Audrey Reed Granger, director of marketing and PR for Whirlpool.
To take advantage of the Repairman's pop-culture status, the team decided to conduct a nationwide search for the next Maytag Repairman. As part of the effort, the team held highly publicized public auditions in LA, Chicago, and New York. Meanwhile, media outreach began, and the campaign was supported with advertising in major markets. "It was all seamless in how everything worked together, from the online advertising to the print ads to the auditions," says Maclaren Latta, senior counselor at CLS. "From a PR standpoint, we saw that the media interest continued to build in each market we went to."
The team's outreach generated some 700 stories, including coverage in the LA Times and The New York Times. The Web site, NextMaytagRepairman.com, received nearly 13,000 views in a single day, and feedback from the effort was overwhelmingly positive.
The team continues to work on relaunching the brand icon, having selected Clay Jackson of Richmond, VA, (pictured) as the next Repairman.
PR team: Whirlpool Corp. (Benton Harbor, MI) and Carmichael Lynch Spong (Minneapolis)
Campaign: The Next Maytag Repairman
Duration: March to May 2007
Budget: Less than $500,000