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This New GE Ad Is A Cross Between “A.I.” And “Boyhood”

When you’re one of America’s most storied companies, maybe you need to go really weird with your advertising to make a splash.

This New GE Ad Is A Cross Between “A.I.” And “Boyhood”
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Airing two-minute science fiction short film about a little boy who is born with a strange power/disability, directed by frequent Spike Jonze cinematographer Lance Acord, during the NFL season kickoff game is a bold way to launch a campaign. But General Electric, with its “The Boy Who Beeps” spot–which ran last night during Football Night In America’s broadcast–clearly felt that bold was the way to go with its new campaign.


The ad from BBDO New York is part of a new phase of GE’s industrial internet campaign. It’s narrative-heavy, without so much as a GE logo or a reference to the company until the end frames. It opens with the strained face of a woman in labor, and stars a little boy who, from birth through his school years, only communicates by beeping–a beeping that all kinds of machines respond to. After he restores power during a blackout, he becomes famous–and is tapped as a resource by various business and public service entities who could use his power to talk to machines to make the world run a little more smoothly. It’s an unusual approach–the concept of a little boy who communicates with machines better than humans isn’t the typical “emotional” fare for a big advertiser–but it’s definitely captivating. The spot concludes with the an end line that ties it all back to the business at hand–“When you speak the language of industry, the conversation can change the world.” It’s the latest cinematic effort (see GE’s recent spot that equates ideas as slightly scary monsters here) from an industrial behemoth that’s been making an effort to speak the language of humans.

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About the author

Dan Solomon lives in Austin with his wife and his dog. He's written about music for MTV and Spin, sports for Sports Illustrated, and pop culture for Vulture and the AV Club

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