GE’s Linda Boff Wins Adweek’s 2017 Grand Brand Genius Honor

Dynamic CMO is the creative force behind a range of groundbreaking work

"I'm overwhelmed," said GE's Linda Boff as she was presented Adweek's 2017 Grand Brand Genius. Yuliya Kim for Adweek
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Linda Boff, the CMO whose work has helped to transform GE’s public image over the past two years, has been named Adweek’s Grand Brand Genius for 2017. The announcement came earlier this evening at the magazine’s annual Brand Genius gala, this year held at Cipriani 25 Broadway in New York’s Financial District.

Though GE has lately endured its share of challenges, including the departure of a number of senior executives amid second-quarter profit declines, Boff has been instrumental in rejuvenating the legacy company’s public image with a series of experiential and content-driven digital initiatives. Each of those efforts demonstrates how GE’s latest technologies connect to everyday life.

“Holy shit! I’m overwhelmed,” said Boff as she took the stage to accept the honor. “This truly reminds me why we love creativity and diversity of thought and points of view. I really feel lucky to be part of this industry and in a room like this. Thank you all so much.”

Boff was among 10 of the world’s leading marketers who make up the 2017 Adweek Brand Genius class.

Boff is the force behind some of the most colorful and adventurous marketing seen in the past two years. She and her team cooked up “Connected Volcano,” a project that planted sensors deep inside an active Nicaraguan volcano, sharing videos of the harrowing expedition into the cone via Facebook and Instagram. Boff was also behind a new season of the popular Droneweek series, airing this year on Viceland, which explores “the future of energy through the eyes of drones” by flying around wind turbine farms and hydroelectric dams.

With an assist from BBDO and Panoply Media, Boff’s team also created a sci-fi thriller series called LifeAfter, distributed via GE’s Podcast Theater, a 10-episode series that explores how GE’s Digital Twin technology “could be used to protect humanity from a rogue computer program that learns how to reanimate the personalities of the deceased.”

Most recently, Boff’s crew took over the famous constellation ceiling of Grand Central Terminal in New York for “Unseen Stars,” a projection that paid tribute to pioneering women in science and technology. The four-day installation ran as part of the company’s Balance the Equation initiative.

Adweek’s editors select the Grand Brand Genius from among the 10 Brand Genius honorees, voting to determine the marketer whose efforts met the highest standards of creativity and original thinking. This year’s other Brand Genius honorees included Adidas Originals’ vp of global brand communications Alegra O’Hare, Frito-Lay svp and CMO Jennifer Saenz, and Luke Sherwin, co-founder and chief creative officer of Casper.

Anna Wintour accepted Adweek’s Brand Visionary honors for 2017 in recognition of her career-long contributions to the fashion and publishing industries and her many years of charity work.

@UpperEastRob Robert Klara is a senior editor, brands at Adweek, where he specializes in covering the evolution and impact of brands.