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GE marks a moon shot victory with a shoe focused on materials

By: Kate Maddox
ADVERTISING AGE

July 17, 2014

GE — a company long known for making consumer goods such as refrigerators and light bulbs — is launching a campaign Wednesday designed to show how some of its advanced materials have industrial and scientific applications, such as helping man walk on the moon.

In honor of the 45th anniversary on July 20 of NASA's Apollo 11 moon mission, for which GE supplied materials used in moon boots, as well as helmets worn by astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins, GE is introducing a limited-edition Missions moon boot sneaker.

"The goal of this campaign is to celebrate the power of advanced materials, tracing back 45 years ago to the original moon boots, which featured GE silicon rubber, to super materials being developed in GE's labs today," said Linda Boff, executive director-global brand marketing at GE. "By highlighting super materials like stabilized carbon fiber and hydrophobic coating in our limited-edition sneakers, it helps people relate to the power of these technologies."

While the campaign is aimed squarely at consumers, the sneaker features advanced materials GE uses in its business-to-business units including jet engines, wind turbines and healthcare equipment.

The sneaker, designed in partnership with fashion company Android Homme and online retailer JackThreads.com, will be sold exclusively at JackThreads beginning at 4:18 p.m. EST on July 20 (the exact time the Apollo 11 module touched down on the moon in 1969). Only 100 pairs of the sneakers will be available, priced at $196.90 -- a nod to the year of the moon mission.

In addition to using the silicon first developed for the original moon boots, the current boots have carbon fiber side panels and thermoplastic elastomer at the top.

GE unveiled the sneakers on Snapchat -- its debut on the social sharing platform.

"Snapchat is a really important place for us," said Sam Olstein, global director-innovation at GE. "Snapchat is one of these new social platforms that is so interesting from a storytelling perspective. It fits into the world of erasable media -- media that goes away after a period of time. Because of the nature of it, it drives engagement and action."

In another first for GE, the company is using a product — the moon boot sneaker — as an advertising vehicle, Olstein said.

"We see the role of product in a whole different way — around really using commerce as advertising," he said. "The ‘long-tail’ narrative you can tell with a product goes well beyond the transaction. This moon boot will help tell the GE story and our connection to the moon landing in a whole new way."

GE is now working on other ways to tell stories through products, although Olstein said it's too early to discuss those.