Old hands in advertising say that one should be able to turn off the sound of a commercial and still get the gist.
If the sound were off on this ad, viewers would have no idea what it’s about until GE puts a few words on the screen at the end.
Those old advertising hands were on to something. Ads aren’t lectures to captive viewers. Ads are experiences that a brand provides the audience to give them a sample of what it would feel like to use it. In this case, the ad should be a sample of what it would feel like to work for or with GE.
There is a big difference between the carefully scripted words a brand puts into its ad and what receivers take out of it. The words of the new GE hire in the ad are exactly what GE wants to communicate to the audience. Unfortunately, the audience isn’t listening. The audience is busy drawing inferences about GE from the whole of the ad. The ad in total is the best information that those who might work for or with GE have about the company. Though GE would like the audience to think of it as a new kind of creative, contemporary industrial giant, the ad is an old-fashioned lecture. This isn’t the ad of a modern, imaginative, world-changing company.
The inappropriate reactions of others to the new hire’s news aren’t particularly funny or worth sharing, but they are more interesting than the lecture.
GE may indeed have the power to change the world, but this ad keeps their light under a bushel.