GE Smart Grid Ad Laments: "If I Only Had a Brain"
GE's Smart Grid campaign started during Super Bowl XLIII this week with a $3 million, 30-second ad.
February 04, 2009
The GE Super Bowl 43 ad borrows from "The Wizard of Oz" to kick off a GE advertising campaign highlighting the smart grid.
I'm all for strong marketing, especially well-timed messages that might bolster support for stimulus spending on energy efficiency. But my immediate reaction to the ad was, How much of the "dumb" grid was supplied by GE? (Not that it's really GE's fault.)
Over the tune of Scarecrow's song, "If I only had a brain," the narrator claims: "Smart grid technology from GE will make the way we distribute electricity more efficient simply by making it more intelligent."
It's true that a smarter grid supports more energy efficiency. It's also true that the technology exists today. So, why is it in GE's warehouse, and not in the grid? Two reasons:
- Those who built the grid -- originally power utilities, and then independent operators -- chose not to invest in it.
- Much of the technology has been proven out only in recent years, when practically no one has been investing in grid upgrades.
What most Super Bowl viewers didn't notice is that the ad campaign carries through to GE's web site. GE spent megabucks on "digital hologram" novelties that will disappoint most visitors -- if they're technically able to use them at all. The interactive appeals to a Generation Xbox/YouTube demographic of young consumers, but it completely misses grid owners, investors and legislators.
GE's Smart Grid interactive site uses interesting but clunky open-source "augmented reality." It requires that you have a web cam, printer, microphone, speakers and Flash Player v.10.
We'll see whether the efforts of GE (and IBM and others advertising smart grid technologies) can help to smarten up politicians, investors and, eventually, the grid itself.
"Much like Boone Pickens's media onslaught for his plan, this will start the public thinking in the right direction," writes residential-solar reseller Douglas Arrison. "It's amazing what a little PR can do to pave the way for solar, renewables and smart grid technology."
Smart Grid Goes Prime Time with GE Super Bowl Ad Smart Grid News blog
WARNING: The following link might crash your browser:
GE Ecomagination Smart Grid "augmented reality" site