BtoB's Best Marketers: Linda Boff, General Electric Co.

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Linda Boff, executive director-global brand marketing at General Electric Co., oversaw brand marketing this year for a new GE business—the Industrial Internet—which brings together software, hardware and analytics to provide solutions in key industries GE serves. The new-business division debuted last November and serves such industries as energy, healthcare and transportation. “One of the top marketing priorities for us this year was how do we continue to translate an important business priority—the Industrial Internet—into both a story and a marketing campaign that would be accessible, interesting and easy to understand,” Boff said. To do this, in February GE rolled out its first mass advertising for the Industrial Internet with an integrated campaign called “Brilliant Machines,” created by BBDO New York. The campaign included six TV spots, as well as online, direct and events. One spot, targeting the healthcare industry, features the character of Agent Smith, played by Australian actor Hugo Weaving, from the “Matrix” movies. In the spot, Agent Smith replicates himself in a hospital to show the different ways GE is improving healthcare with technology. The campaign makes heavy use of social and traditional media. For example, users who tweeted about the Agent Smith commercial were sent a package containing a red and blue lollipop (a reference to colors mentioned in “The Matrix”). “We found ways to intersect with people digitally and also with something in the real world,” Boff said. GE is using other social media platforms as part of the campaign. “We are embracing platforms that we think are particularly accessible in mobile, such as Instagram and Vine [a video-sharing app owned by Twitter],” Boff said. Using Vine and Instagram, GE launched a program called “Six Second Science Fair,” showcasing about 600 science experiments users had submitted via photos and videos. Another top priority for Boff this year was developing content to tell GE's story across multiple platforms. “We are scrappy when it comes to our budgets,” she said. “It's never just an ad on television: How do we take these stories and the content we create, amplify it and make every dollar work incredibly hard?”
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