GE Promo, Case study ECOMAGINATION CHALLENGE by Edelman New York

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Industry Raw Materials & Minerals
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market United States
Agency Edelman New York
Account Supervisor Kerry Strapazon, Anu Ramamurty
Released August 2012

Credits & Description

Category: Corporate Communication
Advertiser: GE
Product/Service: CLEAN ENERGY
Executive Vice President: Ben Boyd (Edelman)
Vice President: Joey Marquart (Edelman)
Account Supervisor: Kerry Strapazon (Edelman)
Account Supervisor: Anu Ramamurty (Edelman)
Account Executive: Robert Corrado (Edelman)
Vice President: Gabriela Juncadella (Edelman)
Media placement: Press Release - Reuters, Bloomberg, New York Times, Earth2Tech - 13 July 2010
Media placement: Launch Event, San Francisco - CNBC, Forbes TV, TechCrunch TV - 13 July 2010
Media placement: Social Media - Twitter, Facebook, Flikr - July 2010
Media placement: Challenge Blog - - 13 July 2010
Media placement: Press Release - Reuters, Bloomberg, New York Times, TechCrunch - 16 Nov 2010
Media placement: Closing Event, NY - live webcast on, first mobile GE webcast - 16 Nov 2010

Summary of the Campaign
Many of our planet’s resources are threatened. Yet energy demand is expected to double by the decade’s end. What if, rather than "business as usual," a company looked beyond its walls and familiar friends? What if a big company sought and invested in big ideas for sustainable technology - regardless of their source?

That’s exactly what GE did. The company’s ecomagination program was founded to bring the best ideas in sustainable, environmentally friendly energy to market from anywhere on the planet.

In July 2010, GE launched the $200MM ecomagination Challenge. The vision: to infuse "eco" with new relevance by finding solutions outside the company. The strategy: an online community for idea sharing and funding competition.

In 10 weeks, the Challenge broke records for an open innovation campaign. It generated 4,000 ideas and connected more than 70,000 thinkers from 150+ countries. Innovators told compelling stories using blogs, video and info-graphics. Collaboration was fostered at a series of global events.

The Challenge created a $20B market opportunity for GE.
GE proved its commitment to a clean energy transformation and spotlighted thinkers around the world.

The Situation
GE's ecomagination program is about bringing sustainable innovative technologies to market today.

In 2010, keenly aware of the seismic shift that occurred in the clean energy landscape over the last five years, GE set out to reinvigorate ecomagination through open innovation, demonstrating how the company’s unmatched commitments to innovation, investment and collaboration were genuine business growth opportunities.

The concept of open innovation was found useful in software development. Could it enhance credibility and work for a 130-year-old conglomerate?

The Goal
Align GE’s ecomagination program with open innovation as a full business strategy. Bolster the company’s reputation as a driver of clean energy transformation.

Landscape analysis showed a fragmented network of cleantech innovators with no common platform to share ideas. Winners were emerging from government and venture capital funding rounds, but there was no community where innovators could share ideas.

GE needed to engage several audiences in this open innovation effort: entrepreneurs, amateur inventors, academia, investors, policymakers, NGOs, adjacent large businesses, and consumers.

The Strategy
1. Demonstrate that the ecomagination Challenge meant real business for GE, representing a $20B market opportunity, backed by significant investment; and
2. Prove GE’s commitment to a global energy transformation while extending the spotlight to - and connecting - the best thinkers from around the world.

With an eye to numerous audience segments, a six-month campaign was organized in 2010 that leveraged storytelling - GE spokespeople and Challenge participants - to highlight innovative submissions and to humanize the Challenge. In addition, social media engagement, blogger outreach and promotion across GE’s various web properties helped spur online buzz.

To maintain momentum, GE hosted events open to guests from all target audiences and held in the innovation hubs of San Francisco and New York City.

As a result, open innovation and collaboration were seen as a successful way to bring clean tech ideas to market, and doing so was undeniably aligned with GE.

GE launched the ecomagination Challenge at a San Francisco event. Influencers in cleantech, venture capital and energy discussed bringing innovation to market and the power of partnerships between big, small, public and private organizations.

An amplification campaign of video posted on YouTube, company blog entries, targeted media/blogger outreach, social media, and data visualizations (of entries by popularity) maintained momentum between events.

Because this campaign was about innovation in and outside the company, GE provided compelling video and graphic content, then stepped back and allowed individual entrants and bloggers to interpret the Challenge in a unique voice.

Nearly five months later, GE invited stakeholders to New York City to discuss the company’s success converting innovation into clear business results. At this same event, GE announced the results of the ecomagination Challenge: 18 winners and new business partnerships.

Documented Results
The events secured 245+ attendees, 50 journalists, and more than 10,000 online and mobile viewers.

More than 100 stories appeared, 750+ unique social media conversations were started, and there have been upwards of 150 re-tweets and clicks of ecomagination Twitter content.

Fast Company magazine reported that the ecomagination Challenge was "good for GE, and it's good for us; the company is one of the largest and most important investors in clean energy."

"StefanieM" tweeted: "Gives me hope: GE's ecomagination challenge crowdsourced 3,844 ideas for clean energy in just 90 days. A better future comes flying at us!"

In 10 weeks, the Challenge generated nearly 4,000 ideas and connected 70,000 thinkers from 150+ countries - a new record in an open innovation campaign.

Olaf Groth of the Monitor 360 research group called GE’s approach "authentic…The difference with GE is the understanding that it’s a win-win situation…if we all embrace open innovation."