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General Electric

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General Electric Co., which launched a major rebranding campaign in 2003 with the tagline "Imagination at Work," extended its brand positioning this year with a new marketing push called "Ecomagination."

The effort goes well beyond advertising, encompassing the way GE designs products that are environmentally friendly and help customers solve business problems.

"Ecomagination is a proof point of what `Imagination at work' can do-solve tough problems in the environment and put money in customers' pockets," said Beth Comstock, chief marketing officer and corporate VP-marketing at GE.

The effort is also putting money in GE's pocket.

"We think this will be a $30 billion revenue generator in the first four to seven years," Comstock said, referring to the 2003 launch of "Imagination." So far, GE is on track to achieve that revenue growth, she added.

The budget for "Ecomagination" was undisclosed. GE's overall ad spending in 2004 was $1 billion, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

"We charged ourselves with positioning GE as an eco-concerned company," said Don Schneider, exec VP-executive creative director at BBDO New York, which created the "Ecomagination" ad campaign.

"The first thing we wanted to know was, `Was it true?' The great news was, it was beyond true," said Schneider, pointing to research that found GE exceeded government standards for reducing polluting emissions.

For example, GE's coal technology division develops technology for companies that helps them reduce gas emissions by up to 50% compared with standard coal processing plants, according to the company.

The marketing effort positions GE as a company dedicated to solving environmental problems through the development of new technologies, including solar power, cleaner-burning coal, lower-emission aircraft engines and hybrid locomotives.

David Slump, general manager of global marketing for GE Energy, said a big part of the effort is working with customers to find solutions to business and environmental problems.

For example, in September GE Energy entered a partnership with Bechtel Power and American Electric Power to build a clean-coal power plant in Meigs County, Ohio.

The plant, which is expected to open in 2010, would be the first integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plant in the U.S. in nearly 10 years. It still requires regulatory approval.

GE Energy also held a Carbon Summit for its top dozen or so customers and government officials in September to discuss the company's commitment to developing cleaner coal technologies.

"We are involving customers and other stakeholders to make this a reality," Slump said. "This isn't just advertising-it's about a long-term strategy."

-Kate Maddox

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