Readers of The New York Times’ print edition Tuesday may find themselves focused on a marketing first before they reach for their second cup of coffee. The paper has dedicated its entire ad inventory to a GE celebration of the brand’s upcoming planned separation into three new public companies, independently focused on aerospace, energy, and healthcare.
The Dec. 6 brand takeover is the first of its kind in the publication’s 171-year history. “The New York Times is a big platform for our stakeholders, so it absolutely made sense to go into partnership with them — but our bar is very high at GE and we knew we wanted to do something that no one has ever done before,” says Zara Mirza, GE’s chief brand officer. “GE as a brand and as a company is driven through innovation, and we always say that our marketing is as innovative as our company.”
The newspaper will feature a cover wrap highlighting the three planned independent companies* — GE Aerospace, GE Vernova, and GE HealthCare — and revealing the impetus behind the company’s transformation. Inside, readers will find three science-backed “focus breaks” dedicated to each of the new companies. GE and T Brand, the content studio of New York Times Advertising, developed the theme to spotlight the companies’ distinct missions and reflect GE’s guiding belief: that clearer focus drives more impactful, imaginative, and long-term innovation.
The power of focus is the driving force behind the multinational’s strategic plans to re-create itself through spinoffs. The company announced the move in November 2021, and last July revealed more detailed plans, including brand names, colors, and a proposed timeline for the separation.
“GE is beginning again, on the path to create three companies all essential to modern life and all focused on delivering for the future,” says Linda Boff, GE’s chief marketing officer. “GE Aerospace, GE Vernova, and GE HealthCare are sharpening their focus on building a future that works in the critical sectors of aerospace, energy, and healthcare. Today’s takeover of The New York Times underscores our belief that focus is a superpower, especially in an age where our attention is divided among endless input, and that focus is the key to delivering long-term value. We were thrilled to collaborate with New York Times Advertising and our longtime agency partner Giant Spoon to bring this historic partnership to life.”
GE and T Brand worked with experts to design hands-on activities for each section. The partners pointed to neuroscience research showing that taking breaks can help us focus and engage. GE called this the “creative catapult” for the campaign, which includes a cut-and-fold paper airplane, reflecting precision in aerospace design; a circular crossword puzzle, symbolizing the commitment to carbon-free energy generation; and a Magic Eye 3D optical illusion, representing innovation in medical imaging.
Another five pages are dedicated to the people driving innovation at GE, beginning with a letter of thanks and appreciation for employees throughout GE’s businesses. It is signed by Larry Culp, CEO and chairman of GE and CEO of GE Aerospace; Scott Strazik, CEO of GE Vernova, GE’s portfolio of Energy Businesses; and Peter Arduini, CEO of GE HealthCare. This leads into each of the planned companies highlighting real employees and their impact. Loren Finnerty, a manufacturing leader at GE Aerospace, is focused on her team’s safety, the purpose that guides her priorities on-site. Ibrahima Ndiaye, a senior principal engineer at GE Research, is making progress toward decarbonization goals with his focus on modernizing the power grid. And Jorge Uribe, a principal engineer for GE HealthCare, focuses on PET/CT technology that is helping to improve clinical outcomes for hundreds of thousands of cancer patients all around the world.
“Today marks a key milestone in GE’s plan to become three independent, laser-focused companies,” Larry Culp said in the July update. “Leveraging GE’s multi-billion-dollar global brand gives us a competitive advantage in our end markets, allowing these businesses to win in the future. Built on a foundation of lean and innovation, these brands will continue our mission of building a world that works and provide our customers with an important reminder of the strengths they value in GE.”
GE HealthCare is set to begin operating independently on Jan. 4, 2023. GE Vernova, a new brand encompassing GE’s portfolio of energy businesses, is scheduled to spin off in early 2024. After the separation, GE will focus exclusively on aviation under the name GE Aerospace.
Following the GE Vernova focus break in the Times’ takeover edition, a banner graphic outlines the “Evolution of GE,” marking changes in the company’s name and trademark throughout its 130-year history. The latest milestone shows that each of the new planned companies, with its own name and distinct focus, will retain the GE Monogram in a unique brand color.
“Our job is to tell GE’s story across all the businesses,” Mirza says. “It’s such a pivotal time for the company. This is a chance to tell that collective story and really bring to life the best of GE, both today and tomorrow.”
* These plans may be subject to the outcome of legally mandated consultation in some parts of the world.