GE’s Story

The Small & Mighty Wins Over Global Icon

Sometimes being annoying pays off. When we started Inspire almost 20 years ago, our aim was to swing for the fences and go after blue-chip companies. Why not? Well, 5% of the hundreds of agencies in Toronto had 80% of the account business. And those 5% were global agencies with immense resources.   

Ok – slight pause and 2 beers later, we were resolved to ignore that fact. We continued to list our “dream clients” and map out how to connect and hopefully get them to come on over to the small & mighty side. 

Wasn’t an overly sophisticated plan at first – we stalked friends, family and colleagues to see if they knew anyone, even a janitor, that was employed by one of the companies on our list and made, what seemed like thousands of, cold calls. I even remember one winter morning, chatting up my garbage man about his brother-in-law that worked at Ford – we didn’t get that one.   

One of those conversations was with my landlord, who just scored a job in sales at GE. GE wasn’t even really on our radar, being at that time one of the biggest companies in the world and that BBDO was their global agency of record. But it planted a seed in our collected minds. Huh GE? Who brings good things to life, who we cried over their commercials watching TV in our jammies as kids. Could we really be that bold?

The answer was of course, yes. It took a year. A year of unanswered phone calls, of little meet & greets over Tim’s with different employees, trying to secure a pitch to their marketing team. And finally pitching, but only to have that employee leave and be replaced by another! Ugh – wash & repeat. 

Then on pitch number two – we scored gold. 

GE in Canada was being ignored by their agency, seeing increased competition from overseas manufacturers, and getting increasing pressure from their major retail partners to deliver.   Most importantly, the replaced employee, the new head of marketing, loved the idea of working with a smaller, more nimble agency that could deliver better service, but could also be, let’s face it, more affordable.   

Hey that’s us! Send us in coach! 

One of Inspire’s greatest strengths is marketing our clients’ products and services within their budget restraints while creating effective solutions. GE’s Automotive Lighting division had new blue tinted headlights that they wanted to bring to the Canadian marketplace, which was already saturated with similar product offerings by their competitors.   Challenging us further was the fact that the competitor’s product was priced considerably cheaper and GE had a limited marketing budget to launch the product. 

The Big Idea

We knew that we had to position the product as a higher quality solution to not only the “performance” enthusiasts inspired by the “Fast & Furious” rage but to every day drivers that wanted their vehicles to have the look and feel of high-end vehicles whose OE’ supplied LED headlights. 

We created the concept of the “Super Blue District” – a hip and urban area that oozed a sophisticated coolness.  We launched & sold the product at the Toronto International Auto Show with a 2000 square foot “Super Blue District” with Deejays, a live performance stage, interactive product testing areas, and high-performance vehicles and premium giveaways. At the same time, we rolled our “district” out in major retailers with an experiential experience driving traffic through media channels with a co-sponsored contest promotion with JVC and their car audio products. We took the experience of Super Blue digital adding interactive and intuitive experience that not only educated the consumer about the product but also featured a sampling of Juno award winning recording artists and a complete installation guide for all car models. 

Our Super Blue District campaign was extremely successful. Retailers loved it and ordered a full offering of product. GE’s marketing team loved it – extending the campaign into the US marketplace. The creative strategy won multiple awards both here in Canada and in the US.    

And for Inspire, well we were appointed permanently as GE’s agency of record. For the next decade we’ve worked with GE on hundreds of projects in the automotive, industrial and consumer lighting market. We’ve named, packaged and launched new product; planned and implemented strategic media campaigns and created award winning experiences throughout North America.