In 1964, author and scientist Isaac Asimov wrote an article for The New York Times predicting what technology would look like in 2014 after visiting General Electric’s pavilion at the World's Fair. Fifty years later, a number of Asimov’s foresights—including connected cars, 3-D technology and cordless electronics—have taken shape in the marketing world.
Now, GE has launched a digital campaign to celebrate those achievements and spur the next generation of innovation as part of its research and development project, called Next List.
"The anniversary represents an opportunity to once again look forward and envision a world elevated by innovation," said Sydney Lestrud, GE’s manager of global digital marketing. "The Next List represents the company’s major research and development focus areas across healthcare, energy, software and manufacturing and the breakthroughs coming out of our global research centers around the world."
The campaign revolves around a series of branded content GE developed for Medium. One article timed around the anniversary of Asimov’s piece talks about materials—specifically ceramics, surfaces and metals—that GE is investing in for more efficient manufacturing. Technology author Paul Ford will also publish an article outlining how he sees technology changing in the next 50 years. GE has had a presence on Medium since earlier this year as part of a collection called What’s Next.
Social content supporting the editorial content will run on GE’s Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn accounts. Some of the posts drive traffic to the Medium articles, but there is also content like illustrations designed to solely live on the platforms.
For example, GE posted an interactive graphic to its Tumblr page and website on Friday that embeds GIFs and links. The image is split into two sections to show the differences between technology and innovation in 1964 versus 2014.
The Fairfield, Ct.-based marketer is also enlisting social media with the hashtag #NextList that asks consumers what they think technology will look like 50 years from now in 2064. The social chatter will then be collected into a visualization showing some of the ideas. "The visualization we create will aggregate these predictions, giving us a pulse on what technology is most inspiring to the community," Lestrud said.
This is the second recent digital campaign that GE has pegged to a historic event. Last month, the brand started selling moon boots to celebrate the 45th anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s lunar landing. The event was tied to the launch of a Snapchat account.