Cannes Lions

GE – Virtual Reality’s Industrial-sized Moment

THE GRID, New York / GE-DAKO / 2016

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Case Film






GE was founded on invention and innovation and has continued to see the world through a different lens for over 120 years. Today, it is this notion that allows us to revolutionize the way people move, power, and cure the world. We were able to add ‘emotionally experience’ to that list by seeking to bring an immersive experience to the smartphone-wielding masses.

In revolutionizing the way millions of The New York Times subscribers consumed content, we delivered low-cost GE-branded Google Cardboard VR headsets to their doorsteps, all on the same morning. By downloading The New York Times VR app and inserting their smartphones into the headsets, subscribers would not only able to link to long-form New York Times Magazine editorial stories and branded videos but experience GE’s commitment to innovation in an emotionally compelling way.


On November 8, 2015, subscribers received the Sunday Magazine on their doorsteps, featuring GE print ads and GE-branded VR Cardboard Kits. The just-launched The New York Times mobile app featured a VR edition of its Sunday magazine, including an immersive film focusing on the ways nature inspires innovation in aviation, energy, and communications.

The GE-produced film’s thematic was then explored through an interactive editorial feature, including takeovers and display ads that went live across NYT’s mobile site, apps, and desktop homepage. These takeovers, along with social posts on the NYT and GE’s social channels, continued to drive traffic to the VR experience and editorial post through the end of the month,

While most VR programs are one-to-one experiences between viewer and content, this activation proved to be less isolating. The mass-release of GE’s story to Sunday subscribers created a shared community experience and introduced a brand narrative that transcended generations.


One of the key deliverables we set out to achieve by pairing GE technology with The New York Times was to be able to introduce a new medium – virtual reality ¬– to the world. We delivered on that goal through a multi-tiered process aimed at driving overall buzz and awareness for the activation.

In total, 1.3MM subscribers received GE-branded Google Cardboard VR headsets on their doorsteps, and an additional 200k NYT readers requested the kits online for free. The New York Times VR app featuring the GE experience was downloaded more times in its first four days than any of the publication’s other apps. GE enjoyed 40k social mentions, with over 99% positive sentiment and 42MM impressions from its display and mobile activations across NYT’s channels. The activation also garnered earned media coverage in Advertising Age, Gizmodo, Fast Company, Forbes, and Fortune, generating an additional 350MM impressions.

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