GE Gets Global ‘Road Warrior’ at BBDO

NEW YORK As General Electric begins building its brand in China and pursues greater awareness in Europe, its lead agency, BBDO, has hired its first global account director on the business it has held since 1920.

Fiona Carter, 34, joined the Omnicom Group shop in New York earlier this month as senior account director on the estimated $150 million account (which now includes an Olympics sponsorship over the next 12 years.) Carter arrives from trend predictor Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve in New York, where she was a senior consultant and worked with BBDO on Campbell’s soup business.

“GE is changing its perspective as a company,” said BBDO North America president and CEO Andrew Robertson, to whom Carter reports. “[Client CEO] Jeff Immelt wants GE to be a truly global company, not an American company that operates overseas.”

As such, Carter, who has worked on the account side at now-defunct Bates and IPG’s Lowe in London and the former D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles in New York, will run BBDO’s New York and Europe GE teams as one group. Robertson said he was impressed with Carter’s experience in running global accounts such as Compaq and Procter & Gamble’s Always.

Carter, for her part, considers her proudest achievement to be the campaign she worked on at Lowe for Tesco, the U.K.’s No. 1 supermarket. The work featured a maternal consumer named “Dotty,” who presented Tesco with “problems” at Tesco to solve.

The new GE account chief said she looks forward to becoming a “road warrior” in her new position, traveling to the 12 BBDO offices that handle the account in North America, Europe and Asia, and coordinating the Fairfield, Conn., client’s 11-month-old “Imagination at work” positioning. That campaign, under the creative supervision of BBDO ecd Don Schneider, has featured spots that go beyond GE’s innovations in household appliances to its latest developments in aircraft engineering, medical systems and plastics.

“We need for that brand message to translate into other cultures,” said Judy Hu, GE’s general manager, global advertising and branding.