Brands

Brian Grazer and Ron Howard Are Making a TV Series for GE

By Amanda Walgrove April 14th, 2015

This Wednesday, National Geographic will be announcing its new lineup of programs, and nature enthusiasts aren’t the only viewers excited about it. Content marketing nerds (myself included) will be salivating over Breakthrough, a new documentary series about science and tech, co-produced by General Electric.

The six-part series, which launches in November, will highlight scientific innovation, covering subjects such as the human brain, alternative energy, and biotechnology.

General Electric’s content marketers already mastered the art of the brand magazine with GE Reports. Now, for the small-screen, they’re enlisting all-star talent like Academy Award winners Brian Grazer and Ron Howard of Imagine Entertainment. As The New York Times reports, GE will be handing the storytelling responsibilities off to Imagine and co-producers at Asylum Entertainment. GE, however, picked the topics for the show and opened its research centers for producers to mine story ideas. For each hour-long episode, the corporation is handing over the reigns to different directors, including Hollywood mainstays like Angela Bassett, Akiva Goldsman, and Paul Giamatti.

We’ve seen big brands take on storytelling for the sliver screen before with LEGO’s critically acclaimed feature film and Chipotle’s Farmed and Dangerous series for Hulu. We’ve also seen companies team up with third-party outlets to produce awesome content in a field that’s relevant to their values and consumers, like when BMW partnered with Medium to start Re:form, a hub for stories about design innovation. And hiring respected Hollywood talent, such as when Gap hired Sofia Coppola to make videos for the holidays, isn’t new either. But have we seen anything like what GE plans to do on National Geographic? Not really, unless you count P&G’s soap operas. But those were mostly vehicles for advertising P&G’s soaps during the commercials.

For now, GE does not have plans to run its own commercials during National Geographic’s “Breakthrough.” But, really, why would they have to? They’ve already secured six hours of (potentially great) brand promotion on the network.

Image by John Shearer
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