GE Social Campaign A Shout-Out For Inventions

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If you have an idea for a wristwatch that senses underarm odor, a soup-resistant tie, a device that infuses coffee directly into your carotid artery, or an undershirt that performs acupuncture, now is the time to tweet it.

That's because GE launched a campaign with BuzzFeed on Inventor's Day last week that asks people to submit ideas, outré or not (although the former is probably better), for a chance to win an actual blueprint of the inventive idea.  

To support this effort, BuzzFeed's EVP of video content, Ze Frank, created a humorous documentary short about inventors and how their ideas influenced products and media. The campaign directs people to submit ideas to the #IWantToInvent. 

"We have had a long relationship with GE, and we met with them about what we planned to do with the video," says Frank, adding that the challenge is making teaser content strong enough to direct people to the longer piece. "Give us five seconds of time, and let us convince you that this is worth watching; it puts the onus on you to make something amazing. Overall, our mandate is to make great editorial content that orbits around the main premise, and do what we can to further the ancillary participation objectives they have." 

Paul Marcum, GE's director of global digital marketing and programming, tells Marketing Daily that this kind of campaign is -- excuse the contradiction -- a no-brainer, since GE was founded by a certain obscure inventor named Thomas Edison, whose name is known only to people in Edison, N.J. 

"This is probably the largest program we have done around Inventor's day, though we have given it some attention in the last few years," he says, adding that the program fits nicely with the company's overarching "Imagination at Work" platform, and its current TV and digital campaign, Brilliant Machines. "It's at the heart of our brand values, our focus on constant product breakthroughs."

He adds that the humorous aspect also makes sense, given the sort of person that "inventor" evokes for a lot of poeple. "It's probably impossible at this point to even say the world 'inventor' without it conjuring up the wild-haired oddball, the sort of guy who invented 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.' We wanted to have fun with it. And BuzzFeed understands how their content feeds off of and into social channels."

The effort also involves New York-based social-media marketing firm VaynerMedia, which is handling things like the blueprints for submitted inventions like an edible cupcake holder, or Frank's own buzz-free bar, that deactivates your smartphone alerts when you pour a stiff one.

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