GE Combines Content Marketing & Advertising with “Enhance Your Lighting”

GoldblumConventional wisdom says that content marketing needs to be useful to be effective. Creating utility builds credibility and separates content marketers from advertisers. Hence, Intelligensia Coffee offers Brew Guides to teach consumers how to brew the perfect cup of coffee, and Birchbox creates how-to videos with beauty tips, such as how to get beach waves for short hair. But publishing how-to information is not the only way to be useful. As the new GE advertising spoof “Enhance Your Lighting” demonstrates, a brand can be useful by entertaining its audience.

“Enhance Your Lighting” is brilliant content marketing. The two-minute short consists of a mock infotainment segment starring Jeff Goldblum. Portraying “Terry Quattro, famous person,” Goldblum delivers an over-the-top pitch for GE Link LED bulbs that pokes fun at our cultural obsession with celebrities and meaningless product endorsements. With a combination of smarminess and arrogance, Quattro extols the virtues of “really great lighting” in building his celebrity image (and in doing so makes a self-deprecating joke about Goldblum himself being 62 years in the land of youth). Then he pitches the cost-effective GE Link light bulb (which costs “less than what I tip the guy who tips people for me”).

The segment is also a clever work of Trojan horse advertising: Goldblum hooks you with his jokes and, voila, the next thing you know, you are watching an advertisement for the GE light bulb. You hear everything you would expect in an ad: product features (it is smart-home friendly), benefits, and price. Yep, just like an ad . . . and yet “Enhance Your Lighting” is also content marketing.

“Enhance Your Lighting” is also significant for two other reasons:

  • The video is an example of how copmpanies are engaging audiences with branded entertainment. For instance, in 2013, Prada created tremendous PR for its brand by teaming with director Wes Anderson to present the short film Castello Cavalcanti. The seven-minute movie stars Jason Schwartzman as the race-car driver who discovers the joys of slowing down after being stranded in a small Italian town. (The Prada branding in Castello Cavalcanti occurs as a subtle product placement. When the storyline takes hold, you have to look closely to catch the Prada name appear on the back of the uniform worn by the driver.) Branded entertainment has existed for quite some time. In the digital age, branded entertainment helps create engagement: seven minutes of anyone’s time on a digital platform is worth gold for a brand like Prada.

  • The segment also helps GE continue to change perceptions of its company from that of ever-present utility to a cool brand. GE has earned accolades for innovative forms of content marketing such as its Tumblr site, which incorporates GIFs and images to visualize the “changing worlds of science and technology.” For instance, the site uses dramatic, in-your-face images to help you appreciate the dramatic scale of industrial technology. With “Enhance Your Lighting,” GE shows us that a $146 billion corporate conglomerate can be funny.

“Enhance Your Lighting” is the latest collaboration between BBDO New York and GE. Other productions include spots such as the weird “Ideas Are Scary” and wistful “Childlike Imagination.” With “Enhance Your Lighting,” GE delivers on its “imagination at work” positioning. Indeed, it takes a lot of imagination to make a daring mock commercial work, and GE succeeds. What do you think of “Enhance Your Lighting”?

Why Google wants you to win the zero moment of truth

Jim Lecinksi wants marketers to respect the power of the zero moment of truth. And he just conducted an interview with me to tell you why.

In his new ebook, Winning the Zero Moment of Truth, Jim, Google’s managing director of U.S. Sales and Operations, describes why you need to connect with consumers at the moment they research a product or service — or the zero moment of truth.

Before we get to the Q&A with Jim, let me give you a little context about the book. I believe every marketing executive should read Winning the Zero Moment of Truth. Jim articulates clearly why the act of researching a product (for instance, when people read customer review sites or simply use search engines to find information) is also an incredible opportunity for marketers to win  business. As he writes in his book:

Would it surprise you to know that a full 70% of Americans now say they look at product reviews before making a purchase? Or that 83% of moms say they do online research after seeing TV commercials for products that interest them? This is how consumers live and learn and make decisions today: from ratings and review sites, from friends on social media, at home and on the go, and (more than ever) from video.

He goes on to discuss how marketers can influence the consumer decision making process by being visible at the zero moment of truth – for instance, making it easier for people to find your website when they research products in your category or participating in the social sites where people talk with each other about products and services in your industry.

Jim was kind enough to answer some questions I posed about ZMOT and its importance to chief marketing officers. Here’s what he had to say:

What inspired you to write this book?

I think it started with search trends.  Particularly in the last few years, we at Google have seen a marked rise in searches for product reviews, coupons, and local information. This was the first bit of evidence that a significant change in consumer behavior was afoot, and it inspired us to dig deeper and learn more.

Your book defines the zero moment of truth – or ZMOT — as the moment when consumers research a product or service before purchase begins. People have been conducting researching prior to purchase for years. What’s changed?

Indeed, people have done their research before making purchases for quite some time.  The Internet — and access to the world’s information anytime, and virtually anywhere —  is the major shift that has made zero moments of truth so important for marketers.

Consider how you would have bought a car 20 years ago.  Twenty years ago, you would have talked with family and friends about cars they liked. Maybe you would have read some auto-specific magazines with reviews. You might also have read Consumer Reports.

After you had felt relatively comfortable with your choice, you would have walked into a dealership and made a decision based on factors such as the recommendations of a salesperson, price, or availability.

Today, the process is quite different.  You can still do the same things you did 20 years ago, but now you can read reviews on the web, browse a broad variety of car-related websites, and engage with your contacts online via social media to get their recommendations and thoughts.

You may turn to YouTube to actually see the cars in action, and you might strongly consider buying a car that you can find more easily online.  And you can do all this wherever you have access to the web — at home, from your desk, on your mobile device from the train.

Now you can show up at a dealership with a much richer, more defined sense of the car you want to buy.

Why should a CMO read Winning the Zero Moment of Truth?

ZMOT is an idea for the marketing world we live in right now.  The fact is, now that your customers can access the world’s information on the web — at their desks, at home, on mobile — they are smarter and more informed than they’ve ever been, especially when it comes to making purchasing decisions.

Continue reading