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BtoB's Best Marketers: Beth Comstock, General Electric Co.

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Technology takes a back seat to its outcomes in three new commercials from General Electric Co. that premiered during the London 2012 Olympic Games. Created by BBDO New York, one documentary-style spot tells the story of London's Homerton University Hospital and GE's gift of more than $7 million in healthcare equipment to its neonatal unit. The commercials, corresponding social media and other marketing efforts are part of “GE Works,” a global marketing platform GE launched earlier this year. “Technology is important,” said Beth Comstock, senior VP-CMO at GE. But ultimately, “the outcome of the technology is what we've really tried to focus on.” Comstock added that this means showcasing not only what technology does for GE's customers but also “the passion our employees have for it.” The campaign highlights GE's core businesses: Moving (all its transportation markets), Curing (healthcare technology), Powering (energy initiatives) and Building (manufacturing, appliances, lighting, technology and GE Capital). The streamlined approach also translates well internationally, Comstock said, adding that more than half of GE's business comes from outside the U.S. Regions such as Asia, India and Brazil have their own social media teams. A robust social media strategy is just one way GE is bolstering its content, Comstock said. It's also using more video, photos and data visualization (illuminating data through eye-catching graphics). The company was an early adopter of Instagram, Pinterest, SocialCam and Viddy. Behind the scenes, Comstock said, GE is continuing to develop apps to help customers such as RailEdge, which helps trains save on fuel consumption and so reduce emissions. Its internal sales apps also are turning heads. When Apple Inc. recently unveiled the iPhone 5, it showed off the GE Genius app, which helps GE Capital's sales teams retrieve customer information and market intelligence on the go. GE also developed HealthyShare, a Facebook app that helps people stick to fitness regimens by sharing their goals online with friends. “It's one of the many waves we'll be doing,” Comstock said.
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