The yields offered by banks are laughable. This situation got several well-known companies thinking, "Let's sell debt to consumers who recognize and trust our brand, and offer interest rates on it that are slightly higher than these CDs and money markets." Thus, the "floating-rate demand note" was born.
Boeing, General Electric and Home Depot have been slammed off their respective 2010 highs, but individually and collectively they've far outpaced the broader market. The major stock indexes can't say that they're up by an average of 14%, but this bunch can.