Iconic Ads: GE – We Bring Good Things to Life

By the 1970s, GE had moved its focus back to service and high-tech industries. Before 1979, GE was mostly known as an appliance manufacturer. Instead of a single company tagline, each of the company’s products and services had its own advertising theme.

Beginning with a range of toasters in the early twentieth century, GE began producing consumer products such as irons and refrigerators. They began to be sold under the GE or Hotpoint brand names after GE merged or acquired with other companies.

By the 1970s, GE had moved its focus back to service and high-tech industries. Before 1979, GE was mostly known as an appliance manufacturer. Instead of a single company tagline, each of the company’s products and services had its own advertising theme.

According to market research, GE was still considered as a dependable and trusted American corporation in the 1970s, but the average GE consumer was perceived to be older, low-income, blue-collar, and unsophisticated, and GE products were perceived to be somewhat outdated and below standard. As a result, GE’s brand imagery trailed behind its competitors, except for lighting items.

GE recognized the need to refresh the company’s brand and create a unified message that could be applied to a variety of product lines and services. The new campaign’s objective was to raise customer awareness of GE goods and encourage greater product loyalty.

In a pitch, BBDO, led by Phil Dusenberry, came out on top.

The team was racking their minds to come up with a line that would connect GE’s various companies.

It is reported that there was an epiphany.

A far more likely source of inspiration is one of GE’s most famous employees, Charles Proteus Steinmetz, who is cited as stating of his work, “Someday we make the nice things of life for everybody.”

The BBDO team had come up with the slogan “We make the things that make life good” up to the day of the pitch.

Dusenberry was well aware that this was long and clunky.

“As we honked, bounced, and stalled our way through traffic, a lovely thing happened,” Phil Dusenberry recalls about the final moments before the cab dropped him off. Maybe it was the last pothole, but the full-fledged theme line came to mind. ‘GE… We bring good things to life,’

The line was in service for decades.

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