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GE kicks off 'Now' campaign

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General Electric Co. debuted a new ad campaign this month, beginning with a TV spot shown during the broadcast of Super Bowl XLIII. The campaign, called “Now,” is designed to show how GE is solving some of the world's toughest environmental problems. It is part of GE's ongoing “Imagination at Work” effort and also includes “ecomagination” messaging. “Ecomagination” is GE's business platform to design products and services that benefit the environment, as well as reduce its own carbon footprint. “Many companies talk about things they hope to do in 10 to 20 years. We are offering a lot of solutions to tough environmental challenges today,” said Judy Hu, global executive director of advertising and branding at GE. The “Now” campaign includes TV and print ads developed by BBDO New York and online ads developed by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco. The budget was undisclosed. A core component of the campaign is showcasing GE's Smart Grid technology, which is the company's vision for a smarter, more sustainable electrical energy grid. The Super Bowl ad, “Scarecrow,” features the scarecrow character from “The Wizard of Oz” and his trademark song, “If I Only Had a Brain.” It shows how GE Smart Grid technology will help make energy distribution more efficient. This was the first time GE advertised during the Super Bowl, Hu said. The company also ran a spot called “Jar,” which debuted last year and showcases GE's wind power technology. “We think it is a very exciting and efficient media buy. It has the largest viewing audience of the year,” she said, pointing to Super Bowl viewership of nearly 100 million in the U.S. “We decided to focus on the Smart Grid technology we offer because it is such a relevant technology for the day,” Hu said, noting that modernizing the current electrical grid will take the support of business leaders, consumers and public policymakers. GE will continue to run the “Scarecrow” spot on networks including CNBC, CNN, Discovery, ESPN, MSNBC and NBC. Also last week, GE introduced a series of print ads that are part of the “Now” campaign. The ads are running in publications including Barron's, BusinessWeek, Financial Times, Fortune, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal and showcase different GE products that are part of its “ecomagination” initiative, including wind turbines, energy-efficient locomotive engines and Smart Grid technology. One ad, showing wind turbines in a field, has copy reading, “Renewable energy. Water desalination. Fuel conservation. It's not a vision of the future. It's ecomagination right now.” The print ads also show how GE is providing worldwide health care solutions, such as X-ray machines in China and diagnostic cardiology equipment in rural India. GE is also rolling out an extensive online campaign as part of the new effort. Developed by Goodby, Silverstein, it includes banner advertisements and a microsite at www.plugintothesmartgrid.com. On the microsite, GE uses a new technology called “augmented reality,” featuring digital holograms, to showcase its Smart Grid technology. “This is really a way to engage people with our message,” Hu said. “Nowadays, you can't just give people information without entertaining them.” The digital hologram, which requires a webcam and a printed solar panel card (which GE provides on the site), offers a 3-D demo of wind turbines and solar power. The Web site also features online videos that provide examples of how the electrical grid can be used more efficiently; charts and diagrams showing cost savings and reductions in carbon emissions through more efficient energy management; and case studies of how homes, businesses and cities are striving to be more energy efficient. Also on the site, users can sign up for GE newsletters, find resources on green living and join the GridWise LinkedIn group for energy professionals. In addition to the U.S. effort, GE is rolling out campaigns in the Middle East, India, China and Brazil this year. The Middle East campaign debuted Feb. 8 and includes TV, print, outdoor and digital. BBDO Worldwide created the campaign. “GE is not known very well in the Middle East, so this is a little more explanation of who GE is,” Hu said. The Middle East campaign, dubbed “Sand Drawings,” shows giant drawings in the sand in beaches and deserts, illustrating GE services that help provide health care, financing and clean water.
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