GE and BBDO Know Exactly ‘What’s the Matter with Owen’

By Patrick Coffee 

BBDO’s latest work for GE debuts tonight on the first episode of the brand-new Late Show with Stephen Colbert, so it’s one of the new season’s first big buys.

The campaign stars “Owen,” a newly-minted GE employee who works as a programmer/developer but can’t quite explain to friends or family what he and his new company actually do all day. This will be a very familiar problem to employees of digital agencies.

It all starts with some “Big News.”


Next in “Hammer,” it’s time to talk to mom and dad, who remind us both that GE used to be a company made up of MEN building stuff with their HANDS and that tech employees always manage to double as 90-pound weaklings.

Finally, it’s time to get serious. In “Zazzies,” poor Owen has to compare his job (which actually helps facilitate the manufacture and sale of useful consumer and business products) to that of a colleague whose company makes pet-friendly emoji apps.

Won’t someone think of the cats wearing casaba melons?

Thankfully, “What’s the Matter with Owen” is far more optimistic than the recent, similarly-titled “We Need to Talk About Kevin.” That said, we may have enjoyed an appropriately violent plot twist at the end of this campaign–especially if it involved the Zazzies guy.

The purpose of the work is to remind people that GE doesn’t just make “Funcookers” and transparent dishwashers while hiring drones to fly over facilities in “the most remote, beautiful and badass places in America”…the company actually plays a crucial role in determining how our infrastructure operates and helping the machines that make our lives easier learn to communicate more effectively with one another. It’s like your HR department, but even more overpriced!

All spots encourage online viewers to visit GE’s careers page, where they can learn more about the 5,300+ job opportunities currently open around the world. Some of the 10,000 people that Samsung is about to lay off in South Korea might want to check it out.

These spots will run on cable and digital channels throughout the fall, and soon our frumpy protagonist will take over the brand’s social channels to explain his new job to curious onlookers while “posting behind-the-scenes moments.”

We just hope he gets good benefits.


Agency: BBDO New York

Client: GE

Chief Creative Officer, Worldwide: David Lubars
Chief Creative Officer, New York: Greg Hahn
Executive Creative Director: Michael Aimette
Creative Director, Copywriter: Judd Counsell
Creative Director, Art Director: Anne Lac

Executive Producer: George Sholley
Producer: Theresa Reyes

Global Director: Brandon Fowler
Account Director: Lindsey Cash
Account Executive: Will Langenberg

Associate Director of Interactive Production: Joe Croson
Interactive Producer: Mo Twine
Designer: Jason Merenda
Designer: Jessica Andrew
Designer: Jorge Brake

Production Company: Anonymous Content
Executive Producer: Rick Jarjoura
Line Producer: Betsy Oliver
Director: Tim Godsall

Editorial: Arcade Edit
Editor: Greg Scruton
Assistant Editor: Laurel Smoliar
Executive Producer: Sila Soyer
Producer: Joanna Hall

Sound Mix: Sonic Union