“In the future, everything is hyper-connected. Will you be?” – Futurist Jim Carroll
Do you remember the Maytag repairman?
I do – he was the loneliest man in the world! The original commercial – over a minute long! – captured the theme.
I guess the early focus groups showed the concept resonated because for decades, the theme ran continuously.
Going on 40+ years, the advertising theme captured the idea that a Maytag repairman was the loneliest man in the world because “Maytags never break down.” And every time the organization did a casting call for a new actor for the series, it drew media attention:
Some characters from commercials, such as the “Where’s the beef?” ladies and Dunkin’ Donuts’ baker have become more than just advertisements. They are part of American pop culture.
Maytag’s “ol’ lonely” repairman campaign is 40-years-old and is the longest running real-life advertising character on network television. Three different actors — Hardy Rawls, Jesse White and Gordon Jump — have played the role.
Maytag went in search of an everyman to take over the role and nearly 2,000 hopefuls showed up at open casting calls across the nation.
Maytag Introduces New “Lonely” Repairman
CBS Morning News, April 2, 2007
And then, appliances connected, and everything changed. I covered the story on stage in Muscat, Oman – telling the story of what happens when everything connects. The story came to me while I was preparing for an executive-level future-oriented session for the leadership team of Maytag/Whirlpool in Chicago some years earlier:
The transcript tells the story:
What happens in this world where everything connects and gets smart?
You know, one of the most magical things is, we know when things are going to break down.
Over in North America and increasingly around the world, we have a company called Maytag. Maytag makes washers and dryers. They make a home appliance that we use to wash our clothes, and during the 1970s and the 1980s, they ran a series of TV commercials that the Maytag Repairman was the loneliest man in the world.
Why was he so lonely? Because Maytag never broke down! They were so reliable, they never broke… That’s the way they positioned the brand value of their product.
Well, guess what, they do break down…
We had a Maytag washer, it broke down a number of years ago. The Maytag repair man showed up in at our front door. You would think that he would have had a box of tools.
He had a laptop, and he came in and he plugged the laptop into our washer and he rebooted it and reprogrammed… and it worked.
You know where Maytag and Whirlpool is going with the appliance of the future? They know that in the era of the Internet of Things that they no longer sell washers and dryers. They know that they are an organization which will sell you a highly connected computer device connected with the Internet of Things that will wash your clothes and cook your food.
And one day in the future, your front doorbell is going to ring – and the Maytag repair man is going to be there – and he or she will say, “I’m here to fix your washer, I’m here to fix your dryer.”
You’re gonna say, “Well, I didn’t call you!” and he or she is going to say, “No, you didn’t, but your washer did because the washer knows when it’s going to break down.”
We call this predictive diagnostics.
This is a world in which Volvo and Mac Trucks has built so much connectivity into their platforms that we know when particular components on a truck are going to break down. We know that if we are selling you a thousand vehicles, we’re no longer selling you a 1000 vehicles – we are selling you a service level uptime agreement in which we will guarantee you 99.9% reliability. Because we know when the trucks are going to break down, and if you are sending a truck up on a long distance delivery, we’re going to save you money, telling you to bring it in for maintenance before you send it…
When everything connects and everything gets get smart – the world changes.
Everything is connecting. Everything is becoming smart. Hyper-connectivity rules our future.
If you aren’t thinking through the implications in terms of the product you develop, you aren’t developing. You are stagnating.
And as your product begins to lose relevance, you’ll find fewer customers and will become the loneliest business in the world.
In the future, everything is hyper-connected.
Will you be?