If the millions of Americans expected to watch Super Bowl 43 have managed to escape the buzz about smart grids so far, that’s about to change. GE (s GE) plans to air a “Wizard of Oz”-themed ad during the big game promoting its smart grid technology, building on its Ecomagination campaign.
Of course, in 30 seconds, the spot will not explain to the uninitiated how IT can make power grids more efficient. That’s what GE’s new microsite is for (not to mention our thorough FAQ on the subject). But while GE’s investment in the promo will stay within the corporation (it owns NBC) the fact that GE will fork over an estimated $100,000-a-second in such a gloomy economic climate signals the increasing value of registering on the national radar as a smart grid leader.
The planned campaign isn’t just about branding; it’s also about GE positioning itself for a slice of the $4.5 billion dedicated to updating the national power grid in the stimulus bill headed for the Senate on Monday. GE is already one of the heavyweights among smart meter developers, so the ad buy smacks somewhat of primal chest-beating. GE has bagged several major utilities deals in recent months — including a 3.3 million-meter project with California’s PG&E (s PCG) and an up to 5 million-meter deal with American Electric Power (s AEP) — yet it continues to battle with Washington-based Itron (s ITRI) for large utility deployments.
In fact, GE’s new slogan, “Innovation you don’t have to wait for,” sounds a lot like Itron’s “Present perfect. Future ready.” Given the influx of cash planned for the next few years, new players are bound to enter the field. Do you think GE will be ready for the blitz?