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GE finds benefits in 'shiny objects'

News, 20 October 2015

ORLANDO, FL: Experimenting with carefully selected "shiny objects" can bring tangible benefits for brands, according to a leading executive from General Electric.

Linda Boff, who was named as the organisation's chief marketing officer in September, discussed this topic at the Association of National Advertisers' (ANA) 2015 Masters of Marketing Conference.

More specifically, she reported that GE had benefitted from being among the first brands to tap into platforms like Instagram, Vine and MikMak.

"We look for these opportunities. And sometimes people say, 'Are you chasing the shiny object?' Maybe a little bit," she admitted. (For more, including why GE emphasises creativity, read Warc's exclusive report: GE reinvents its marketing: Fast, creative, unexpected.)

"But we do this for a reason … We think you only get one chance to be out in front. The moment passes and it passes quickly. Platforms get saturated, people move on, and the spoils sort of go to the first early adopters."

And while a firm selling jet engines, wind turbines and medical equipment may not always seem like an obvious contender for youth-focused digital sites, Boff suggested being an early mover was a core component of its DNA.

"When it comes to being first, we take an investigative pride, if you will, in uncovering new platforms – in fact, being the first brand on these platforms. Not the first B2B brand – the first brand," she said.

"Every day, I wake up, my team wakes up, our agencies wake up and we think about: how can we be relevant today? How can we be contemporary? How can we make sure that what we're doing is fresh? We're constantly reinventing."

Alongside helping GE remain "fresh" and "relevant", a willingness to try new things means it can learn first-hand about such services.

"You have to be on the playing field. You can't read about these technologies," said Boff. "To experiment, it costs almost nothing, and you learn so much. And that's a big part of what we're trying to do.

"If we had stopped and said, 'OK, let's debate whether we should go up on Snapchat,' we would still be debating it now. I think a lot of it is: as a brand, who are you? What's your North Star?

Data sourced from Warc