October 20, 2015

GE Is Not Your Granddaddy’s Company


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This fall, GE is running a series of commercials aimed at showing tech minded millennials that they’re the place to work if you want to make a real impact on the world.

GE’s television commercials tell the story of Owen, a millennial software developer and his new job at GE. Owen is excited about his new job at GE, but the conflict in the commercials arises when no one else understands what he is doing at GE or why he’d be working for such a company. Everyone from his parents who present him with a hammer to “build things with”, to his friends who think he is going to be working “on a train” are confused on what Owen will be doing at GE.

The goal of these commercials is to change the perception of GE for both the younger and the older generations.

GE wants to be known as a cool place to work that also provides value. These commercials do a great job of communicating the message of value and truly speak well to millennials.

We’ll be the first to say, you’ll probably be seeing more commercials like these in the coming years as legacy companies battle to remain attractive and relevant to developers like Owen.


The first of the three commercials depicted the millennial software developer, Owen, discussing his new job at GE with his parents. This first commercial really sets the stage for GE. They want everyone to know they are not the same GE that your grandfather or even your parents know. The new GE is powered by software engineers and although they are creating things and changing the world, they no longer need a hammer.


GE is trying to once again set the stage: they are no longer the same GE that we all think they are. They are a revolutionary company that is making giant advances in technology and millennials need to know about this change.

After going back and forth about what he will be doing Owen then asks one of his old coworkers, “Do you even know what GE is?” By mocking the intelligence of the character he makes a direct call out to millennials asking if they know the real GE.

This scene also makes Owen look much smarter than his friends by showing that they do not even really know what he does outside of “making things”. Targeting developers and directly telling and showing them that they are smarter than their peers is a good tactic to get the attention of young millennial engineers.


The final commercial from GE was all about creating value and how GE is far more disruptive than silicon valley darlings like Snapchat.

They’re asking if you want to dedicate your life to creating frivolous consumer experiences.

Anyone familiar with the startup landscape knows of a company that looks like the one described in this segment:

If we do something silly and entertaining we’re going to change the world!

GE is trying to show that their work creates value well beyond keeping more of us glued to our phones in mindless amusement. Instead they make the software and the hardware that makes the world go round. In their opinion, these smaller startups, even some of the unicorns, are nonsense.


If you watch the above videos online, there is call out button at the end that says, “Get yourself a world changing job.” This call out is a clear indication that these commercials are being used to directly recruit millennial talent to GE.

GE is making steps in the right direction to not only communicate with millennials but also to instill in the minds of the general public that they are a digital industrial company.

They initially used an older generation of people to show that GE is not the same as it used to be. There are no more hammers needed to get the job done – just lines upon lines of elegant code.

They then framed GE for millennials in the second commercial, letting us know that this is not the same GE we know either. Finally, they do a great job of showing and telling how their jobs provide value over a silly startup that puts fruit hats on animals. Andy Goldberg global creative director of GE said, “The goal is to set up the promise of GE being a digital industrial company,”

GE is just one company that is making strides to be seen in a different light to better recruit millennials. GE is a massive multinational corporation, clearly recognizing that they are losing the war for talent to Silicon Valley darlings. The problems they solve are the best weapons in their arsenal to bring to the battlefield as they fight the war for talent – they just need to keep changing the conversation. According to ADWEEK, they’ll be doing that this fall as Owen will also be taking over some of GE’s social media accounts.

If you have a campaign focused on highlighting culture or innovative recruiting tactics, drop us a line at We’d love to write about it.


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