Super Bowl

GE Joins Super Bowl With Ads Designed to Inspire (Plus a Shout to Budweiser)

Conglomerate's Commercials Designed to Inspire, Feature GE Employees

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General Electric will air two commercials in the Super Bowl, but the ads aren't as boisterous or humorous as those you'll see from Volkswagen, Pepsi or many other marketers.

The company is "running two new spots as part of a new broader company initiative that starts with the Super Bowl," said GE spokeswoman Leigh Farris. One spot is set to run in the first slot of the fifth break of the first half of the game, while the second is slated to air in the third break of the second half, she said.

Super Bowl viewers looking for cuddly dogs, flashy celebrities or other glitzy hallmarks of Super Bowl advertising will not find them in GE's work, which was created by BBDO. Instead, the company hopes to draw an emotional response with commercials that show how the work of General Electric employees creates ideas and products that help people and even the United States, Ms. Farris suggested. One spot will focus on GE's work with energy -- even touting its role in powering Budweiser breweries -- while the other will feature the company's appliances.

While humor and panache often wash across the ad roster of every Super Bowl, some marketers choose a more somber or inspirational route. In many cases, Super Bowl sponsors use their commercials not only to speak to the broad public, but also to deliver a message to its own employee base, most of whom are probably watching the event. At least one other Super Bowl advertiser is expected to run an ad before the game that plays upon this theme.

GE planted the seeds of this campaign last year, when it ran commercials showing GE employees learning how the company's medical equipment helped diagnose cancer in a patient and workers from the company's aircraft unit seeing a General Electric engine placed into a plane. GE is set to burnish its new ads with plenty of digital media, Ms. Farris said, including an opportunity for viewers to tell GE what they think is working in their own communities and perhaps deflect some of the "current negativity" brought on by a weak economy.

GE likely had good impetus to run these ads. For years, the company has run the bulk of its TV advertising on properties owned by NBC Universal, of which it was majority owner. As part of a deal to sell majority ownership of NBCU to Comcast Corp., GE pledged to continue to support NBC Universal with advertising. NBC is broadcasting the Super Bowl this year.

With ad packages for this year's Super Bowl said to be running between $3 million and $4 million, GE may have found a way to burnish its corporate spirit and fulfill its commitment to NBC Universal in one fell swoop.

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