SBD/Issue 111/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Making A Splash: GE To Send Global Message At Beijing Olympics

General Electric Focusing
Marketing Muscle On Olympics
General Electric (GE) plans to make the "biggest splash it can at the Beijing Olympics" in an effort to show "potential customers and shareholders in the developed world that GE's creativity is translating into big sales in the developing one," according to Claudia Deutsch of the N.Y. TIMES. The company's "most daunting endeavor" is building an "imagination center in the middle of the Olympic Green." The center, which will be "half fun house, half museum exhibit," will be torn down after the Olympics, and the "only exhibit tied directly to the Games is a digital replica of the Olympics aquatic center, where GE is supplying the lighting." Meanwhile, the company is planning a TV and print campaign that puts an "Olympic spin on its effort to bring desalination technology to the Middle East, X-ray technology to China and heart monitoring gear to India." The spots, which show a "field tilled to look like a running track ... and windmills arranged in the form of the National Stadium," will appear on GE-owned nets including NBC and MSNBC. It also "hopes to put Olympic-specific ads at local airports and on highway billboards." GE did not disclose its marketing budget, but the company "is still clearly pushing a big chunk of money at the Olympics." BBDO, N.Y., Exec Creative Dir Don Schneider, who worked on the campaign, said: "We want to humanize GE even as we show worldwide investors that GE is a major player in the world." Brand research firm Odyssey President Nicholas Donatiello Jr.: "On television the Olympics looks like an athletic event, but on location it's a big business convention." Brand strategy firm CoreBrand CEO James Gregory: "They don't have a universal brand awareness outside of the [U.S.], and the Olympics gives them the international forum to get it" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/28).

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