GE Rolls Out Follow-Up to ‘Pen’ Campaign

NEW YORK General Electric this week launched the second generation of its award-winning “Pen” program, which allowed users to create virtual line drawings.

Called “Imagination Cubed,” the effort 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, who visit or link to the application from, can invite friends to draw with them via e-mail or instant messenger.

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.

“Last year, it was about one person creating an idea and sharing it with the people they knew. This time, what we’re trying to do is empower people to collectively put their minds together and come up with ideas together,” said Arturo Aranda, senior creative director at Omnicom Group’s Atmosphere BBDO in New York, which handles GE’s online work.

The original effort won a gold Pencil at The One Show Interactive and a silver cyber Lion at the Cannes International Ad Festival in 2003. Its debut coincided with the launch of a multimedia campaign from Omnicom’s BBDO in New York that replaced the GE’s longtime tagline, “We bring good things to life” with “Imagination at work.”

“Anyone of us can come up with a great idea, but when you’re in a room with several people, you start building upon each other’s ideas and taking it in directions that you probably wouldn’t have as an individual. That’s the idea behind ‘Imagination Cubed,'” added Tim McCleary, GE global director, brand and online advertising.

Online ads promoting the application will run for at least eight weeks on sites like, MSN, CBS Marketwatch and Yahoo! Omnicom’s OMD in New York handles media.

Fairfield, Conn.-based GE spent about $70 million on online media last year, per TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.