And to add insult to injury the corporation, founded by Thomas Edison, has been replaced by something called Walgreens Boots Alliance. Holy embarrassment, Batman!
I’m especially flabbergasted by this since my firm and I once had quite the relationship with GE.
It all began when Valerie Di Maria, the current owner of the 10 Company and, way back when, the CCO of GE Capital, called me to ask if an itsy, bitsy start-up PR firm called Peppercomm would be interested in pitching what was then known as GE Financial (it was later spun-off as Genworth).
Needless to say, I was thrilled by the opportunity. That’s when Peter Harris, then a Peppercomm partner and, today, the CEO of The Harris Agency and I went to work.
We spent countless hours coming up with a campaign theme to launch what GE Financial hoped would become an agnostic website that would provide oodles of financial and insurance information to the average consumer.
We nailed it by inventing the slogan, “Liberation through education.”
The tagline positioned the soon-to-be-site as a hub of knowledge that would enable educated consumers to make wiser financial investments.
Pete and I (and a few other Peppercommers) hosted the pitch at our offices, transforming the conference room into a classroom.
We won it.
That’s when Jackie Kolek, then a rising star and now president of our Financial Services group, took over the account and engineered the wildly successful, award-winning launch of the Center for Financial Learning.
Our success with GE Financial led us to Beth Comstock, then CMO of GE, who asked us to pitch the corporation’s new “Imagination at work” campaign.
I won’t bore you with all of the details, but I had one of our minions dress up as Thomas Edison, interrupt the new business presentation we were delivering and announce that he, Edison, would be running for president on the new Imagination Party ticket (we had an entire program to support the ersatz Edison’s run for the White House).
Beth hired us on the spot.
And, we spent many years publicizing GE CEO Jeff Immelt’s efforts to reinvent the multinational powerhouse from the old, but wildly successful, conglomerate to a lean, mean innovator.
And, as the BBC article states, his successor has been unable to rally the company. As a result, the stock price has plunged to new lows and GE has been dropped from the Dow Index. It’s truly epoch-making (as my old Sony client loved to say).
Looking back, I am proud to say I was right in the midst of the fray as Immelt did his best (and we did ours as well) to steer what would eventually become the RMS Titanic of Corporate America away from the iceberg that was dead ahead.