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GE's Comstock leads campaign to strengthen brand worldwide

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Beth Comstock, who was named CMO at General Electric Co. last year and named BtoB's marketer of the year in 2003, led an innovative marketing growth initiative at GE this year called Imagination Breakthroughs.

The program identified and funded at least 80 marketing, customer and product development projects that are expected to contribute more than $20 billion in revenue in the next three to five years.

"We're running at 100 miles an hour and haven't yet found a way to extend the hours in a day," Comstock said of her marketing challenges this year. "We're having great fun revitalizing both our marketing function and the GE brand experience around the world."

In 2003, GE launched a rebranding campaign called "Imagination at Work," developed by BBDO New York. This year, Comstock led the continuation of the campaign, which included new TV spots, new online ads and global initiatives.

Two new TV spots, "Columbus" for the financial services business and "Fantastic Voyage" for the health care business, showcased individual GE businesses. The overall campaign is aimed at b-to-b and consumer audiences, and seeks to build awareness of GE's diverse businesses.

GE also launched its first corporate advertising in China to announce its worldwide Olympic partnership that will include the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

The company also used experiential marketing to raise awareness of the brand among business users and consumers. For example, GE launched a two-week display at Washington, D.C.'s Union Station, called "Imagination Nation," and an exhibit at Wired's "NextFest" in San Francisco.

Both exhibits featured a GE-90 aircraft engine, an 18-foot nose-cone from a wind turbine from GE Energy and a Smart car that was made using plastics from GE Advanced Materials.

"By using consumer and business-targeted media, we have enhanced familiarity for a wider array of GE activities," Comstock said.

"We have also created a more consistent tone and look to our global communications, while at the same time allowing each business and region to respond to local needs," she added. "So whether you see an ad extolling the benefits of our energy, health care or water technologies, you should be able to immediately identify it as GE."

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