Posted: June 14, 2012
By Kari Fox
Ohio State engineering alumnus, Justin Berger, plays a starring role in GE Appliance’s advertising campaign to launch their new French door refrigerators, which he helped design. As part of the campaign, Berger traveled 2,000 miles with celebrity chef, Ben Sargent, and one of the new refrigerators to show that it keeps food fresher.
Berger, a 2008 mechanical engineering graduate, is part of the ice and water subsystem team, who worked on the components that help dispense ice and water through the external dispenser and into a glass. He also headed the intellectual property efforts and designed the paddle and duct door of the new refrigerator.
When GE started working on the campaign to launch the new line, they decided Berger was an ideal candidate.
“I think my personality just fit with the visual,” says Berger. “They also wanted someone that had worked on and contributed to the project.”
The campaign, called Freshpedition, includes a national television commercial and webisodes that follow Berger, Sergeant, and the refrigerator from Louisville, Ky., to a remote U.S. location to bring fresh food to wildlife biologist Ron Thompson. Along the way, they make stops at locally-owned farms, ranches, and a dairy to pick up fresh food to prepare a meal for the wildlife researcher when they reach their final destination. The commercial takes on a reality television feel, which made it easy for Berger.
“My role was just to play myself,” he says. “I think they highlighted some of the geeky engineering tendencies I have so that was easy for me to play into. I was able to be myself the whole time.”
Taping for the campaign was completed in May and Berger recalls many memorable moments.
“We stopped at a goat cheese farm and I got to milk a goat which I never would have seen myself doing in my life,” he says. “We also stopped at a swampy area to do some fishing and the fisherman had me pull up what I was told was a trout line. Well, I ended up pulling up an alligator and I was not expecting to see that. I’d say I got to experience a little bit of everything.”
Though television was never in the realm of Berger’s thoughts, he feels like his college experiences helped prepare him for whatever the future holds.
“Ohio State did a great job getting me ready. Experiences on campus and with student involvement helped me to interact with people,” Berger says. “It made me ready for any challenge.”
The College of Engineering Honors Program is one of the many things that first attracted Berger to Ohio State.
“The quality of the program and the in-state tuition made it an obvious choice,” he says.
Berger always knew he wanted to be an engineer, but Ohio State helped him figure out exactly what he wanted to do within the field.
“I’ve always been really interested in the way things fit together and understanding how they function, so engineering was a natural choice,” he says. “My first year I figured out mechanical is where my interest lies, working with systems and getting involved with how things come together.”
Berger says he fondly remembers the Fundamentals of Engineering Honors program, all the work that goes into the first-year curriculum, and the team project to create an autonomous robot.
Now, after graduating and being part of the two-year production for the new refrigerators, Berger describes his feelings as those of a proud father.
“The most rewarding part is seeing the final unit role off the line,” he says. “I saw this thing from the very start and now the process is coming to an end. I can now see what all the hard work is resulting in.”
As for the future, Berger says he’ll probably stick with the profession he loves over television.
“Maybe if Hollywood calls I’ll think about it,” he laughs. “But I think I’m more disposed to be an engineer.”
Kari Fox is a student communications assistant with the College of Engineering.