GE Humanizes Its Technology in ‘What Matters’ Campaign From BBDO

Focusing on the how, but also the why

General Electric

General Electric will help you do homework, get you to your grandson’s school play on time, and even ensure your preemie baby girl arrives home safely.

Such intimate applications of the company’s products and services are on display in BBDO’s “What Matters” campaign, which explores GE’s innovations across aviation, healthcare and power generation. Asserting that “Technology is how we do things. People are why we do things,” the spots broke during NBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

“More important than the things GE does are the reasons they do them, and that’s to create personal outcomes that are important to us,” Michael Aimette, executive creative director at BBDO New York, tells us.

“She doesn’t care that we developed an algorithm to help stabilize babies’ temperatures, or that we designed an advanced incubator with minimal noise,” begins the narration in the first ad below. “What matters to her is that her daughter was born five weeks early, but she’ll be coming home tomorrow.”

Next, we learn GE builds the world’s most powerful jet engine, so Nana won’t miss a very special curtain call:

Also, GE claims its “technology powers a third of the planet,” which comes in handy for a youngster burning the midnight oil in rural India (no actual oil required):

Here’s an anthem spot that weaves together all three scenarios:

“The creative team found a great tension in pointing out that people—all of us—probably aren’t all that interested in how GE does the amazing things that they do,” Aimette says. “What we do care about is how all that stuff makes a difference in our lives. So we set out to tell very simple stories that everyone can relate to, and illustrate how GE stands for something greater than the sum of its innovations.”

Smuggler director Todd Field, a former actor, supplies the voiceover in the low-key spots. His everyman tones and muted cinematic style create a soothing, reassuring ambiance—perhaps appropriate for a company that’s found itself struggling in the marketplace.

These are attractive ads with strong storytelling, if perhaps a tad too safe and easy to tune out.

More understated than GE’s recent work about a girl who never stops inventing stuff, or its “Unimpossible Missions” series, the vibe harkens back to a simpler time, when the company wasn’t bleeding dollars, and its advertising focused on bringing good things to life.

Client: GE
Title: “Anthem” “Home Tomorrow” “Homework” “3:00 Sharp”

Creative Agency: BBDO New York
Chief Creative Officer, Worldwide: David Lubars
Chief Creative Officer, New York: Greg Hahn
Executive Creative Director: Michael Aimette
Senior Creative Director: Eric Goldstein
Creative Director: Fred Kovey

Head of Production: David Rolfe
Executive Producer: George Sholley
Producer: Jack Patrick
Music Producer: Rani Vaz

Senior Account Director: Peter McCallum
Account Director: Lindsey Cash
Account Manager: Jen Layton
Assistant Account Executive: Jordan Ji
Group Planning Director: Jessica Strode
Senior Planner: Ben Bass

Production Company: Smuggler
Executive Producer: Patrick Milling-Smith
Executive Producer: Brian Carmody
Executive Producer: Shannon Jones
Chief Operating Officer: Andrew Colon
Line Producer: Alex Waite
Director of Photography: Justin Brown

Director: Todd Field

Editorial: Rock Paper Scissors
Executive Producer: Eve Kornblum
Producer: Taylor Colbert
Editor: Adam Pertofsky
Assistant Editor: Marjorie Sacks

Visual Effects: A52
Producer: Stacy Kessler-Aungst
VFX Supervisor: Andres Barrios

Telecine: Company 3
Producer: Kevin Breheny
Colorist: Tim Masick

Music: Hook & Line

Mix: Sonic Union
Producer: Justine Cortale
Engineer: Michael Marinelli

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@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.