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HR Lessons I Learned from GE Super Bowl Ads

Recognize This! – Celebrating the deeper and broader value of what your employees contribute to every day makes work meaningful.

As most readers of my blog know, I’m Irish. Though I tend to divide my time between our Dublin and Boston offices, I can’t claim to be true fan of any American sporting leagues.

Most know the American Football Super Bowl is the most watched show on television with 110 million viewers. With an audience of that size, it’s not surprising how expensive advertising spots have become. According to Forbes:

“This year, commercials cost $3.5 million for 30-seconds on average to air. Add to the cost another $2-or-3 million for production and the celebrities’ fees, and it’s more like $5 or $6 million for a 30-seconds ad in the Super Bowl. …

“Many Advertisers walk away because they discover that the ROI, the return on their investment, is negligible. … There is simply no way that any of the Advertisers on yesterday’s game can recoup their investment because these commercials do not move the needle on sales, according to numerous studies.”

Then why do fiscally responsible companies choose to advertise during the Super Bowl, especially for products no average consumer (or Super Bowl viewer) would ever buy?

Case in point – GE. With two advertisement “spots” in the Super Bowl, one can assume GE invested anywhere from $7-10 million. One spot was somewhat consumer focused, featuring the people who manufacture GE appliances at a plant in Kentucky.

I find the second spot much more interesting, however. This spot featured the people who make GE turbines in Schenectady, NY. No average football fan is going to run out the next day and buy a turbine. So why would GE feature this spot? (Email subscribers, click through for the video.)

I believe GE made this investment as part of its continual investment in its employees, who GE leaders are clearly proud of. More to the point, GE is highlighting what makes work meaningful for their people. I particularly liked these two quotes.

“When I was a kid I wanted to work with my hands. I really enjoy building turbines. It’s nice to that what you’re building is going to do something for the world.”

“When people think of GE, they typically don’t think about beer. The power needed to make their beer comes from turbines made right here. ‘So you make the beer?’ ‘No, we make the power that makes the beer.’ ‘So without you there’d be no beer?’ ‘That’s right.’”

Do you help your employees make that deeper connection to the importance, meaning and value of what they do every day? Sure, the beer connection in this commercial makes good sense in a Super Bowl advertisement. But the same deeper connection could be made for the almost numerable things GE turbines power to make possible.

What’s the deeper meaning and value of what you do every day?

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