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Whirlpool Asks Consumers To `Just Imagine’

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — Whirlpool has launched a major U.S. ad campaign the company hopes will surpass Maytag’s repairman in terms of consumer recognition.

Whirlpool has allotted more than $50 million over the next year for the campaign, the company’s largest annual expenditure for advertising. It anticipates the campaign will “drive awareness consideration even higher and will break us apart from a very staid appliance industry,” said Skip Layton, manager of brand communication at Whirlpool.

The new campaign uses the slogan “Just Imagine” and portrays “the spirit of the all-powerful female, made even more powerful with Whirlpool products by her side,” according to the company. By using women of mythical proportions — goddesses are seen floating on water and in the sky — the ads target modern, confident women who are used to juggling career and family duties.

Created by French advertising agency Publicis, the campaign diverges from traditional major appliance ads that tend to focus on products and how they work.

Instead, Whirlpool has chosen a broad concept and employed special effects in the TV ads, which were partially produced at London’s Pinewood Studios where Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and many James Bond films have been shot.

“The Just Imagine tag line is all-encompassing and allows us to refresh, evolve and extend the campaign every year,” Layton said.

The ads debuted on U.S. television on May 8 during CBS’s Family Law and ABC’s Monday Night at the Movies. The print ads can be seen in May issues of consumer magazines such as Better Homes & Garden, Family Circle and Good Housekeeping and will eventually be in more than 20 top publications.

The campaign, which first appeared throughout Europe, consists of four 30-second television spots and one 60-second brand treatment. It will break in Latin America at the same time it does here, bringing the number of countries where it is running to about 40.

In its eight years in Europe, the campaign has helped Whirlpool gain market share “and helped make Whirlpool the No. 1 appliance brand in the world,” Layton said.

In addition to the print and TV coverage, Whirlpool is redesigning its sales promotion material, Internet site and delivery trucks to match the new brand image. “We’re going to take it right down to the point of sale,” Layton stated. “Even all of our delivery trucks will eventually carry the campaign.”