Kern Promo, Case study THE GNOME EXPERIMENT by Ogilvy & Mather London

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THE GNOME EXPERIMENT

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Industry Business equipment & services
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market United Kingdom
Agency Ogilvy & Mather London
Art Director Graham Jenks
Copywriter James Nester
Photographer Piet Johnson
Released February 2012

Credits & Description

Category: Technology and Manufacturing
Advertiser: KERN & SOHN
Product/Service: PRECISION SCALES & CALIBRATION
Agency: OGILVYONE WORLDWIDE
Agency: OGILVY PR
Executive Creative Directors: Emma De La Fosse/Charlie Wilson (Ogilvyone London)
Creative Director/Account Cd: James Nester (Ogilvyone London)
Creative Director: Graham Jenks (Ogilvyone London)
Deputy Creative Director: Nick Hearne (U-Dox)
Copywriter: James Nester (Ogilvyone London)
Art Director: Graham Jenks (Ogilvyone London)
Art Director/Social Media Creative: Nick Hearne (Ogilvyone London)
Prublic Relations Lead: Blair Metcalfe (Ogilvy PR)
Digital Producer: Aphrodite Paxinou (Ogilvyone London)
Managing Director: Albert Sauter (Kern And Sohn)
Marketing Director: Tommy Fimpel (Kern And Sohn)
Public Relations Analyst: Pete Dyson (Ogilvy PR)
Prublic Relations Manager: Allan Edwards (Ogilvy PR)
Administration: Stefanie Price (Ogilvyone London)
Website Developer: Chris Haines (Ogilvyone London)
Developer: Teresa Chao (Ogilvyone London)
Developer: Fahim Chowdhury (Ogilvyone London)
Developer: Daniel Tanner (Ogilvyone London)
Photographer: Piet Johnson (Piet Johnson Photography)
Video Editor: Mark Fowler (Ogilvy Redworks)
Media placement: Corporate communication - Global media - print, broadcast, social media - February 2012

Summary of the Campaign
Kern & Sohn, who make and distribute exceptionally precise scales, boosted sales and reached millions of potential new customers, through the unlikely combination of a little-known gravity phenomenon and a travelling garden gnome. Here’s how: The company wanted to grow their reputation and market share in the education and science sectors. But with millions of labs and schools around the world, the challenge was to engage this widespread audience whilst standing out in a commoditised market. So we decided to conduct the world’s first mass-participation gravity experiment.

This revealed an amazing fact about Earth’s gravity: It actually varies, so you’ll weigh slightly more or less wherever you go. To demonstrate the capability of the Kern product, we set out to measure these tiny fluctuations by sending a gnome (also called Kern) with a set of scales around the world. It worked: Millions learned about gravity, tens of thousands shared our content, and thousands joined the experiment.

Our activity increased traffic to their site by 256%, and achieved a 1,042% ROI based on new distributor sign-ups alone. A TED talk about the gnome’s journey has been held. In several countries, the experiment has even been added to the national curriculum.

The Situation
Unsurprisingly, precision weighing is a topic that rarely creates ripples in even in the most specialist journals, let alone the world’s media. And with millions of schools and laboratories all over the world, Kern faced the challenge of a widely spread audience, limited market insights (data into who buys the scales in labs doesn’t exist), a highly commoditised marketplace and a disinterested media.

To capture the attention of teachers and laboratory technicians the world over, we needed to make precision weighing fascinating.

The Goal
• Raise awareness of Kern and grow its reputation for accuracy beyond the existing customer base; securing attention outside specialist media.
• Increase awareness of Kern amongst influencers in the purchase of scales in educational and scientific institutions
• Generate conversations internationally around gravity’s influence on weight measurement. (A Kern specialism is calibrating scales for local gravity.)
• Produce campaign materials that our audience would share, optimising the budget
• Boost Kern’s online visibility – online search results are key to business success in the science supplies sector

The Strategy
To engage our audience, we aimed to give influencers a reason to talk about ‘accuracy in weight measurement’, with Kern at the heart of the conversation. (Research showed no significant discussion of this issue outside specialist titles and blogs.)

By doing this, we aimed to get the immediate attention of our wide-spread target audience, as well as build longer-term brand awareness and boost online search rankings – all essential for driving customers to Kern. We pinpointed influencers in science and education who would help us spread our story. Further research into their sharing habits, established that success would hinge on bringing science to life in a populist way.

Developing shareable content would also give us greater reach and could even help our branded content become an educational resource. So we set out to conduct the world’s first mass-participation global gravity experiment, linking scientific precision with Kern.

Execution
In November 2011, a single flight case containing a chip-proof garden gnome and a set of Kern precision scales began its journey from laboratory to laboratory around the world.

We asked participating scientists to simply weigh the gnome, record the result on our experiment website, take some photos then sent him to his next destination. We gave participants sharable content including videos, gravity facts and the gnome’s travel snaps, allowing them to help spread the word.

Along the way, we also continually updated the gnome’s very own blog with the news of his travels – this helped us drive traffic to the site and build a fan-base.

Mid-March, when the gnome reached the South Pole, we generated social media news releases amongst key influencers in science, education and global media. This generated huge consumer and target audience interest in Kern and its experiment.

Documented Results
Overnight, Kern and its Gnome Experiment became a global sensation, bringing together academics, scientists and media in a global discussion about Kern and its gravity experiment.

Week 1 After Media Launch: News, science and education shows ran dedicated Kern segments
• Story reaches audience of over 355m in 152 countries

• Every 20 seconds someone, somewhere signed-up to participate in the experiment

• Visitors to Kern’s corporate site increased 256%

• 1,445 new leads generated: 40% schools, 25% scientists

• 16,386 websites linked to GnomeExperiment.com which saw 52,425 views

• By Week 2, 1042% ROI achieved based on new distributor sign-ups alone

• Sales to targets jumped by 11%; the experiment became a TED talk

• Kern’s story was added to the curriculum in several countries

• All on a production budget under €30,000. The experiment continues.