GE Offers Forum For Teamwork

Collaboration was key to evolving General Electric’s award-winning “Pen” online program, which allowed users to create virtual line drawings.

The second generation of the effort, called “Imagination Cubed” and unveiled last week on GE.com, lets up to three people doodle illustrations on the same Web page at the same time and communicate during the process through a customized chat interface. Users can invite friends to draw with them via e-mail or instant messenger; online ads are promoting the application.

The initial push, which broke in January 2003, lacked a participatory element, but it did have a viral one. Users from 140 countries e-mailed 6 million sketches to 1.5 million different recipients, GE reported.

The new program tries to “empower people to collectively put their minds together and come up with ideas,” said Arturo Aranda, senior cd at Atmosphere BBDO in New York, which handles GE’s online work. Omnicom Group sibling BBDO is responsible for the client’s “Imagination at Work” campaign.

“It’s about being able to harness the creativity of several people in a single space and building on that idea,” added Tim McCleary, GE global director, brand and online advertising. Fairfield, Conn.-based GE spent about $70 million on online media last year, per TNS Media Intelligence/CMR Interactive.