The BtoB judges were particularly taken with an interactive ad dubbed "Birds," in which a flock of birds gracefully morphs into a jet aircraft to entice readers into learning more about the GEnx jet engine.
"You first have to give the audience something compelling because it's asking a lot from the audience to click," said Arturo Aranda, senior creative director at Atmosphere BBDO, New York, which created the GE campaign. "Many in the audience hate online advertising, but you can coax them into an experience. It has to be fun and eye-catching and hopefully that will be enough for them to want to learn more."
To get its audience to learn about the benefits of the next-generation GE aircraft engine, creatives left a narrow vertical strip on the photo frame of the jet engine. After taking the bait, the audience can roll over several rows of automobiles that quickly disappear to reveal the message: "If every twin-aisle aircraft had GEnx engines, the CO2 emissions reduced would be like taking over 800,000 cars off the road each year."
Jen Walsh, GE's global director of interactive marketing, said, "GE wants to directly involve the end user in our brand. So, we strive to make all of our ads a true demonstration of imagination at work, while at the same time making the ads engaging, so visitors can experience, participate and ideally put their own imaginations to work via our creative."
The campaign was introduced May 9 and continued through Sept. 4 across 30 online business and consumer properties, Walsh said. It served up more than 350 million impressions during this time. Additional online ad flights are now under way in Europe and Asia.
Click-through rates on the campaign were impressive, Walsh said. While most advertisers are content with click-through rates of substantially less than 1%, the rate exceeded 10% on the Economist site. Online ads have also contributed significantly to Web site traffic, which now approaches nearly 1 million unique visitors.