Exclusive: GE, BBDO tinker with new tagline, brand campaign

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General Electric Co. is devising a corporate brand campaign that could employ a tagline to replace the long-standing "We bring good things to life."

Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, New York, has been readying work that is thought to center on the idea of GE as a global innovator, an agency executive said. "GE is playing with some ideas with BBDO," said the executive, adding that the current tagline is under review.

`imagination at work'

Further indication that the No. 6 Fortune 500 firm is prepping a campaign: It registered the trademark "Imagination at Work" with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Dec. 2. A GE spokeswoman said the company wasn't ready to discuss new advertising plans, although it was reported to hire independent public relations agency PepperCom to back up an ad campaign around the innovation theme.

GE spent $229 million in measured media in the U.S. in 2001; it spent $161 million from January through October 2002, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR. The budget for the forthcoming effort is not known.

GE, moreover, is planning a major online buy, including home-page takeovers starting Jan. 20. Omnicom's OMD Digital and Atmosphere handled the buy through the At-Work-Brand-Network, a consortium of five Web publishers-CBS MarketWatch.com, USA Today, CNET, NYTimes Digital and Weather.com.

The duration of the digital program and its budget could not be determined. GE will use the daytime Web buys to reach the at-work audience in the industries GE competes in-appliances, aircraft, medical, financial services and media.

The U.S. campaign may go global as Judy Hu, general manager-corporate advertising has said GE is "virtually unknown" in Europe and Asia. GE is working with Interpublic Group of Cos.' Weber Shandwick, its corporate PR agency of record, on international initiatives to build public awareness. The company is still smarting from the European Commission's 2000 veto of its planned merger with Honeywell.

In October, Ms. Hu told Advertising Age she planned a campaign for Asia Pacific. "Our idea is to bring all the work together and to have one look and one feel to the advertising," she said at the time.

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