To Recruit Developers, GE Debuts New 'Owen' Ads During Oscars

Character Gets Stalked by Friends and Job Candidates in New Spots

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GE is debuting three new TV ads in its "Owen" campaign during the Oscars ceremony Sunday night, in a continuing effort to recruit software developers for its Industrial Internet business.

GE will run two 30-second ads during the Red Carpet pre-show and one spot during the live broadcast of the 88th Academy Awards. The ads were created by BBDO New York and the budget was undisclosed.

"We have a two-fold approach with the campaign," said Andy Goldberg, global creative director at GE. "One is to continue our presence of being a digital industrial company and bringing the idea that GE is leading in the space of merging digital and industrial. The second is to recruit software developers."

Mr. Goldberg said the Academy Awards fits into GE's strategy of using live events with its media buy, and because the target audience will be watching the show.

"This year, there are a lot of films that feature science and technology, such as 'Martian' and 'Star Wars.' Whether you are a developer or a customer, you want to watch it and you don't want to miss out," Mr. Goldberg said.

In all the spots, a software developer named Owen who has recently been hired by GE is bombarded by job candidates who want to work at the company.

"Our approach was, 'How do we continue this story of Owen, but we have to evolve it,'" Mr. Goldberg said. "In the first series, he was announcing he was getting a job at GE, and his parents and friends were skeptical. Now, his friends want what he has."

In one spot, called "Orc-O-Gram," singing elves come to Owen's office with resumes from job candidates.

In another ad, called "BrainDrone," Owen meets a woman at a job fair who works for a company that lets people control drones with their brains. Owen says, "I'm over at the GE booth. We're creating the operating system for industry called Predix. It's going to change the way the world works."

After crashing her drone into a nearby booth, the woman asks if she can email Owen her resume.

In a third spot, called "Ambush," a job candidate on the street tries to bribe Owen with money, a watch and coupons to try to get him interested in taking his resume. Owen explains that he doesn't make hiring decisions -- he's only a software developer.

The spots are also running online, including GE's website, YouTube, Facebook and other social channels. GE also launched an internal campaign to generate excitement among employees, including sending emails to all employees named Owen first to build social chatter, Mr. Goldberg said.

Editor's note: Hear more from GE Global Creative Director Andy Goldberg in person. He'll be taking the stage during the 2016 Ad Age Digital Conference in New York City, April 5-6. Get all the details here.

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