Your kitchen is keeping an eye on you, but not in a creepy, Big Brother kind of way.
GE Appliances wanted consumers to know that its products were paying attention —and being responsive — to today’s lifestyles and habits. So it made a whopping $1 billion investment in three key kitchen appliances, redesigned during the past several years to include customer-inspired details.
To introduce the revamped products, the marketer launched a 14-week national advertising and promotional campaign this fall. The outreach, dubbed Reimagining Home from ad agency BBDO New York was a rare consumer-targeted campaign from the brand. It featured TV ads, an interactive website, original content on digital platforms, social media and a cooking-based sweepstakes with a celebrity chef.
Executives at GE had found that consumers wanted better design and more intuitive features from their major appliances, which sit in a room that’s no longer considered just a utilitarian part of the house. It’s a hub of activity and, often, a busy family living space.
Buyers didn’t want their appliances to stand out, as they had in years past, but preferred them to blend in with clean lines and sleek looks. They also wanted the products to be more intelligent, with more functional features.
Based on consumer feedback, GE made what it describes as modern and minimalist “macro-design” changes to the core products. The result: a stainless-interior dishwasher with 102 cleaning jets, French-door refrigerator with hands-free auto-fill and gas slide-in range with tri-ring burner.
To launch the tweaked appliances, the Reimagining Home campaign included the tagline: “You said ___. So we ___.” For instance, “You said it takes too long to fill a water bottle. So we developed hands-free autofill.”
“We wanted to highlight the role the consumer plays in how we think,” says Tim Matis, director of advertising, GE Appliances. “We don’t create technology for technology’s sake. We do it to make consumers’ lives easier, better, simpler.”
The brand’s effort came at a pivotal time. The $15.5 billion major household appliance market in the U.S. has only slowly started recovering from the housing bust and the economic recession of recent years. Consumer confidence and spending is just now on the uptick in many big-ticket categories.
Despite the downturn, GE Appliances made its big-money investment in product innovation over the last several years, creating some 1,500 jobs at its Kentucky-based manufacturing plants. The marketer emphasized that fact in one of its Reimagining Home commercials, an anthemic America-at-work spot.
For the duration of the 3 ½-month campaign, the partners created robust online and digital experiences to engage consumers and keep them coming back to the interactive website and social media extensions. GE jumped into Vine videos for the first time to show not only the new product features but to engage consumers with info bits like how to make great guacamole or fold decorative napkins.
“We took advantage of the opportunity to bring the kitchen to life,” says Wendy Brown, manager of consumer digital and social media for GE Appliances. “We made it a living, breathing experience with social extensions.”
The multi-layered website — geappliances.com — featured clickable hotspots that revealed demo videos, infographics, tips and social streams. Consumers could find out about new product features and view original content that was continuously updated with information from GE experts, cooking pros and fellow shoppers.
An accompanying contest, called Cooking Fail Redemption, asked consumers to trot out their epic fails in the kitchen. Amateur cooks could submit their tales of woe — and stories of hungry dinner party guests — along with photos of the deflated souffle. All entries appeared on GE Appliances’ Tumblr page under the #cookingfail hashtag.
The sweeps then turned the epicurean loser into a winner with a trip to GE’s headquarters in Louisville, Ky., to recreate the same dish, but with professional help this time. Chef Jeffrey Saad, host of United Tastes of America on the Cooking Channel, supervised the do-over. The top prizewinner, along with several other consumers, also took home the triage of new appliances.
The campaign has recently wrapped, with company executives saying they’re still gathering and analyzing data. But signs are already pointing to a win with consumers.
The Tumblr proved so popular that GE intends to keep it going, says Brown. It will launch under the new name, Kitchen Stories, early next year.
Throughout the campaign, website traffic jumped on average 12%, and there were more than 500,000 video views for Cooking Fail Redemption. Native integration on sites like Houzz achieved interaction rates as high as 23%, and video completion rates were as high as 70% across contextual properties on Yume.
“This campaign really reflects our business philosophy right now,” says Brown. “We truly are focused on consumer insights and making sure we’re listening, whether it’s for marketing or customer service purposes.”