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Maytag Repairman May Get Even Lonelier

Are the Maytag repairman's days numbered? The iconic figure at the heart of the appliance marketer's long-running advertising campaign may be headed for the scrap heap now that the account has been moved to a new agency. The character, dubbed "Old Lonely" because customers never call on him to fix their super-reliable machines, was created by the Leo Burnett agency. But now that Maytag has been acquired by the Whirlpool Corp., the company is moving the account to its own agency, Publicis Worldwide, which is actually owned by the same agency holding company as Burnett. Old Lonely was created in 1967 and three actors have portrayed the repairman over the last 39 years: Jesse White, Gordon Jump and Mark Devine. A final decision on whether the character will remain has yet to be made, but Whirlpool wants to make a major push for Maytag, and the character may not fit in with the company's plans. "We haven't made any final decisions," said Jeffrey Davidoff, vice president for brand marketing and communications at Whirlpool. "We want to restore Maytag to all its former glory, and then some. Maytag has unique brand equity beyond appliances. It's part of popular culture. And 'Old Lonely' has been a part of that culture."



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