Maytag “Obstacle Course”

It’s always fun to watch people making a mess, as long as you’re not the one who has to clean it up. A commercial for Maytag (via Publicis in New York) capitalizes on this fact of human nature as it dispatches a group of kids to wend their way through an obstacle course that includes a tank of orange juice, giant waffles drenched in maple syrup, a pendulum oozing with raspberry jam, etc. Having completed the course, the kids (superintended by the Maytag repairman, who finally has something to do) toss their soiled white jumpsuits into a Maytag washing machine. You will not be astonished to learn that, at the very end of the spot, the kids reappear wearing the jumpsuits, which have emerged spotless from their time in the Maytag machine. What we have here, in short, is that most old-fashioned of ad formats, a product demo. But it’s performed with such visual gusto that viewers will find themselves watching it intently. And if people actually sit still and watch, a product demo can be a potent persuader in a category like this one, even if the genre has been around since the Year 1. As a bonus, there’s a cool moment at the end when (in a second or so) the inner parts of a Maytag washing machine are seeing flying together to form a whole motor. This lends force to what would otherwise seem like a pro forma announcement from the voiceover that “only a Maytag is built like a Maytag.” –Mark Dolliver