GE’S Linda Boff Discusses Caring for -- and Marketing -- Iconic Brands

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Linda Boff (pictured above), CMO, GE is a keynote speaker at the ANA's upcoming Masters of B2B Marketing Conference June 5-7 in Orlando, FL. ANA Group Executive Vice President Bill Tucker recently sat down with her in a recent pre-conference interview.

Bill Tucker: Can you tell us about your background and how you came to be the Chief Marketing Officer at GE?

Linda Boff: GE is a company where people are very passionate about the work we do to build a world that works better, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I’ve been with GE for nearly 20 years -- to work at GE is to fall in love with our purpose. After an early career where I discovered a passion for marketing, I joined GE from Citi in 2003. I started as Director of Global Employee Marketing and have been fortunate to gain experience that led to my current role as Chief Marketing Officer, Vice President of Learning and Culture and President of the GE Foundation. A strategic mindset, global experience, intense curiosity and world-class teams are all factors in where I am today. Of course, being in the right place at the right time matters, but once you are there you need it give it your all every day. My focus today is on bringing out the best in GE at a time when the brand is evolving dramatically to support three independent companies. Through it all, the part I love most about GE is the people. My team is simply outstanding. We have each other’s backs, work really hard, laugh and have a strong feeling of purpose knowing the impact GE has on the everyday lives of people around the world.

Tucker: When I think of GE, I think of one of the most iconic, well-known brands in industry. How do you approach caring for a brand like that? Growing it? Transforming what it means as times evolve?

Boff: GE is always in motion. We’re 131 years old, but our constant is progress and innovation. As our founder Thomas Edison famously said, “I find out what the world needs… and try to invent it.” We bring that view to marketing… great reverence/respect for our history and what the brand means around the world, while focusing on staying relevant today. We aim for our marketing and communications to be as innovative as the company -- always looking at how we can improve on driving our brand forward. Today, we stand on the brink of a historic transformation as we prepare to launch GE Aerospace and GE Vernova as independent, investment-grade companies in early 2024. Following that, there will be three GEs in the world, all powered by one of the most recognized global brands. To me, that is the definition of evolution.

Tucker: GE has been recognized for its innovative marketing campaigns, most recently for The New York Times takeover in December 2022 which focused on its big brand announcements around GE HealthCare, GE Aerospace and GE Vernova. Can you walk us through the thought process behind this campaign and how it was executed?

Boff: That campaign was phenomenal to be a part of -- so exciting. We had great support across the company for the campaign, from marketing to investor relations to our business leaders. To see the team bring the project to life -- the first advertising takeover of The New York Times in history -- was really rewarding. GE is beginning again, creating three companies all essential to modern life and all focused on delivering for the future. GE HealthCare -- which we spun in January 2023 -- and GE Aerospace and GE Vernova are sharpening their focus on building a future that works in critical growth sectors. The takeover underscored 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. This activation gave us the space and impact to tell the complete story in a way that had never been done before… a hallmark we look for given our history of innovation. We were thrilled to collaborate with New York Times Advertising and our long-time agency partner Giant Spoon to bring the historic partnership to life.

Tucker: With the rise of digital marketing and social media, how do you ensure that GE's marketing efforts stay relevant and effective in reaching customers?

Boff: We start, always, with where we can best have the right conversations with our various audiences…investors, customers and current and future employees. What are they reading? Watching? Browsing? Throughout my career, the worlds of marketing and media have evolved dramatically, and our audiences find information on a multitude of channels. We look at their behavior and develop content tailored for each channel. LinkedIn is different than Instagram is different than YouTube Shorts. We won’t use every channel, but we experiment a lot and need to be aware and understand the market.

Tucker: What advice would you give to aspiring marketers looking to make an impact in the industry?

Boff:First, find your passion. That is at the foundation of thriving in the position you wake up every morning to do. Second, marketing is an ever-evolving, fast-paced industry where it can sometimes be challenging to separate what matters from what others are doing. Simple as it sounds, figure out what matches the DNA of your brand. Find that distinction and use it to drive whatever you are developing. Third, as a leader, I think it is essential to invest in your teams. I try to prioritize them and set up as many one-on-one meetings and learning sessions as possible. On a personal note, find time for yourself where you are able to completely zoom out of work. Immerse yourself regularly and deeply in something you love, whether that be writing, listening to an audiobook or walking through a museum. And get some sleep -- that always helps!

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