25 Jul 2013
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GE makes data the hero in mini blockbusters

In a bid to bring the industrial internet to a mass audience, GE has created a series of online films about a town called ‘Datalandia’.

The films aim to demonstrate GE’s big data solutions through the lens of a miniature town, where the industrial internet is already a fully functioning part of life.  

Filmed at Miniatur Wunderland in Germany, the film depicts miniature people in a “summer blockbuster” style applying unique twists to cliché movie storylines – such as sexy Vampires, the doomed Rom-Com couple and Frustrated Aliens - to demonstrate the potential of GE’s vision.

According to GE, “data is the new hero”, and these films seek to educate consumers about the potential beyond smart fridges.

“Imagine if your jet engine could tweet”, said Linda Boff, executive director, global brand marketing at GE. “The internet of things encompasses far more than their refrigerators and thermostats; it's also the data-enabled industrial contraptions used in air travel and healthcare—or the Industrial internet. The industrial internet is the layer of data that sits on top of those machines," Boff told AdAge.

Katrina Craigewell, manager of digital marketing at GE, said: “We needed a way to describe and story-tell around the industrial internet that would be relatable and fun. ‘Datalandia’ brings GE’s unique take on the industrial internet to life by showing the marriage between machinery and data, which is really what the industrial internet means at GE.”

“We show the industrial internet in a whimsical manner in ‘Datalandia’ but we are actually not that far off from a lot of the technology. The best thing about ‘Datalandia’ is that it is a world where all those internet technologies come together and that’s the world that we want to get to soon,” said Craigewell.  

The online films – which roll out weekly- are housed on GE’s YouTube channel as well as on a dedicated microsite, which also features links to GE reports detailing the company’s vision for the industrial internet as well as showcasing the work that GE is already doing with intelligent machines and big data clouds.

The films are also being screened in Brooklyn’s trendy DUMBO as part of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy's outdoor film series sponsored by Syfy. GE is also distributing film posters (which can be downloaded from the website) in key target areas such as Austin, Boston, Brooklyn and San Francisco.

GE will also invite people to upload photos of their faces at its 'Datalandify Yourself' site and receive a one-inch figurine from GE. 

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  • REVIEW
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GE has made a lot of noise about the industrial internet or the 'internet of things' as it is called by consumers.

This is a big area of the company’s strategy going forward and therefore a play like Datalandia is a very serious one. GE has – for some time – spoken of the possibility and potential of using the internet to monitor remote equipment and improve efficiencies.

It is fast becoming a reality – experts estimate there will be 50 billion smart objects by 2020 - and GE is keen to ensure the brand is front and centre in consumers minds. Cue 'Datalandia'.

With Datalandia, GE hopes to simplify a very complex topic so consumers can start to realise the benefits that big data can have on everyday life. This is well beyond the intelligent egg-tray - although GE is also backing these sorts of internet of things inventions and platforms to ensure the brand truly ‘owns’ the industrial internet.

GE wants to use ‘Datalandia’ to push the conversation beyond the idea of intelligent fridges and provide a glimpse of GE’s vision of the future, which is intelligent and connected.

The strategy here is crucial, after missing the information technology boat, the company sees the industrial internet as a major opportunity and a perfect fit for GE. 

There are huge opportunities here and GE is looking to seize on them, but it's not just about getting on board, GE wants to write the rule book for the industrial internet, according to the Financial Times, GE sees itself as “an industrial version of Facebook”.

With Datalandia GE is targeting consumers –  but not just any consumers. With the activity centered around tech-savvy areas such as Brooklyn and Austin it’s clear that this is not about the mass audience so much as reaching early adopters and tech-savvy individuals.

According to GE,  this campaign aims to educate investors about its innovations as well as woo tech talent to come and work with the company – which has recently opened a software centre in Silicon Valley.

GE has opted to use entertainment concepts that are relatively easy to understand to break down the stigma of big data.

The idea of summer blockbusters and employing some of the most recognisable film genres: vampires, aliens and rom coms is a little cliché in itself but then that is the joke.

GE has been smart about it, including inside jokes and nods to cultural references to ensure that this content appeals to early adopters and mainstream audiences alike.

The themes make the content digestable and take big data from groanworthy to slightly less geeky. In this regard the activity is a success. I like that the films spill into genuine film environments and the use of film posters is also a really nice touch.

As branded entertainment goes I think the films are cute, and let's be honest who doesn’t love miniatures? Giving people the chance to 3D print a miniature of themselves is a stroke of brilliance.  

This is a great piece of transmedia storytelling, GE had already began to take its industrial internet story to market through branded films and via its popular 'Agent of Good' ad, which featured Hugo Weaving in his Matrix character Agent Smith explaining GEs connected future. Datalandia brings a new element to this story and provides GE with a whole new conversation, allowing them to speak beyond hospitals or wind farms and explore how GE and the industrial internet can transform an entire town. 

With Datalandia, GE is setting the agenda for the conversation about the industrial internet. I think this is a smart piece of work that breaks down some very complex concepts and makes them easy to understand. I think this will be successful for them.

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  • VERDICT
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GE has managed to create a fun and entertaining series about big data. That alone makes it worthy of 4 stars.


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