IDEA: Here's one little girl who's going to lose her mind on Take Your Daughter to Work Day. The 6-year-old narrator of GE's striking new 60-second ad weaves fantastical stories of otherworldly inventions her mother is working on. But it turns out it's all true—underwater fans, talking airplanes, miniature hospitals—because her mother works at GE.
"One page from the brief really stood out," said BBDO art director Eric Goldstein. "It was a quote from [GE CEO] Jeff Immelt that said, 'We want to tell the world about the magic and wonder of what we do.' That conjured up thoughts of a childlike imagination."
The spot covers the breadth of GE's work—in aviation, healthcare, energy, etc.—with a lightness of touch that adds humanism to its recent messaging about its "Brilliant Machines."
"This spot reclaims imagination," said Linda Boff, GE's executive director of global brand marketing. "Showing where the softer side—imagination, software, the mind—meets the harder stuff—the technology, the engines, the innovation—is, for us, a great marriage."
COPYWRITING: The spot opens with the girl on a boat, gazing at a giant moon. In voiceover, she says: "My mom? She makes underwater fans that are powered by the moon. My mom makes airplane engines that can talk. My mom makes hospitals you can hold in your hand. My mom can print amazing things right from her computer. My mom makes trains that are friends with trees."
Each sentence is its own eye-catching scene—churning deep-sea fans; a flock of planes with feathered wings; a tiny hospital in the girl's palm; a screaming jet engine hovering in the desert; ecstatic tree people chasing a locomotive.
In the final scene, the girl, in her bedroom, says to the camera: "My mom works at GE." That line pulls the viewer out of the fantasy and into the real world—much as actual GE products, like the handheld Vscan ultrasound device, balance the metaphorical imagery with reality.
The long-running tagline, "Imagination at work," appears on screen, followed by the GE logo.
ART DIRECTION/FILMING: The creatives had their own ideas for visual metaphors but asked MJZ director Dante Ariola for his. Some of his ideas (like the tree scene) were similar to theirs; others (like the bird-planes) were radically different.
Ariola shot the ad over five days at four sites in Southern California. The goal was not to make it too cute or too dark. The visual references include films like Mad Max and Big Fish, but each scene has its own unique visual language.
TALENT: The agency considered scores of girls, but wanted someone who wasn't overly sweet. "This girl is obviously adorable, but at the same time she's realistic. She's not a Central Casting type," said BBDO ecd Michael Aimette. A girl of 6 or 7 was the perfect age, too. "I have 4-year-old twins, and I think they would give even more abstract versions of the lines," said Aimette. "Older kids would have a different interpretation, too."
SOUND: Barking Owl scored the perfect original track early on, without even seeing the visuals. "There's a sense of moodiness, a positive moodiness, a dreamlike wonder but not cute or fairy tale-ish," Aimette said. "It just feels like you're in a slightly altered universe." Sound design punctuates the details, particularly the whirring jet engine.
MEDIA: TV and online. GE is also sponsoring blog posts on Medium and on Feb. 11 (Edison's birthday) kicked off a 22 Days of Invention celebration.
Spot: "Childlike Imagination"
Agency: BBDO New York
Chief Creative Officer, Worldwide: David Lubars
Chief Creative Officer, New York: Greg Hahn
Senior Creative Director: Eric Cosper
Senior Creative Director: Michael Aimette
Group Executive Producer: Anthony Nelson
Creative Director/Copywriter: Nick Sonderup
Creative Director/Art Director: Eric Goldstein
Head of Music Production: Rani Vaz
Worldwide Senior Account Director: Emma Armstrong
Senior Account Director: Peter McCallum
Account Manager: Sam White
Production Company: MJZ
Director: Dante Ariola
Director of Photography: Benoit Delhomme
Music House: Barking Owl
Edit House: Whitehouse
Editor: Rick Lawley
Visual Effects House: Method Studios
Audio Mix: Heard City
Mixer: Phillip Loeb