One of the most effective mass marketing home campaigns of all time was the “Live Better Electrically” (LBE) program of the post-World War II era. It began in the mid 1950s when the General Electric (GE) and Westinghouse corporations decided to co-sponsor a multi-million dollar nationwide campaign to promote the sales of electric appliances and the benefits of electric power. General Electric provided the main support for the program, which launched in March of 1956.
At the time, utility companies were rushing to meet the increased demand for electricity in postwar America. However, as more power plants came on line the cost of electricity decreased. To increase company profits, homeowners were encouraged to consume more power through the purchase of a variety of electric products. For GE and Westinghouse, the creation of a new market for electric heat also promised to increase profits for the companies. The two corporations not only sold residential electric heating units and a variety of household appliances, but they also sold electricity generating equipment to utility companies nationwide.
Supported nationwide by 900+ electric utilities and 180 electricity manufacturers, the electricity industry launched the LBE campaign through a variety of media outlets. The initial launch came with the offer to send a free 70+ page brochure which told homeowners how their lives could be enriched by the use of electricity and purchase of electric appliances.
To further the new program, in October 1957 the National Electrical Manufacturers Association launched the “Medallion Homes” campaign, which sought to sell 20,000 all-electric homes nationwide within a year. The program had five basic goals: 1) to provide prospective homebuyers with a recognized symbol of electrical excellence for new home construction 2) to raise the electrical standards in new construction 3) to help builders sell homes by educating their customers to the benefits of electrical living 4) to show existing homeowners electrical features and fixtures that were needed in their present homes 5) to give national support to existing programs that were being sponsored by local utilities to upgrade existing home electrification.