Kern: The Gnome Experiment

Kern: The Gnome Experiment

Launch date: January 2012


Kern, a precision scales manufacturer, wanted to build its brand, differentiate itself and grow market share within the science and education sectors.

However, with millions of schools and laboratories around the world to reach, Kern faced the challenge of a highly commoditised marketplace and a disinterested media.

So the aim was to deliver an engaging business campaign that would affect behavioural change within the target audience, encouraging them to recognise brand ‘Kern’ for the first time and make purchases based on familiarity and preference.

Three key objectives were set:

  1. Drive sales to target sectors, enhancing Kern’s visibility and preference
  2. Generate global conversations on gravity and weight measurement, emphasising Kern’s USP; calibrating scales for local gravity
  3. Raise awareness of Kern and its products beyond existing customers and media

Strategy and details of activity

To give the public a reason to talk about Kern and we set out to make complex science accessible, harnessing Kern’s gravitational calibration USP.

After conducting in-depth research into education and science influencers - delving into scientific theories on weight and measurement - we conceived of the Gnome Experiment – a global research project aimed at proving the scientific theory that gravity varies from place to place affecting weight.


  • Gave Kern a personality to resonate across media
  • Targeted influencers via new channels; encouraging interaction with brand and products
  • Amplified content sharing across social media
  • Created local and global stories through targeted activity at iconic locations
  • Created a chip-proof garden Gnome, inviting scientists and customers globally to weigh it before sending it on to the next.
  • Circulated a single flight-case containing the gnome and Kern scales between volunteers
  • Developed GnomeExperiment.com blog/twitter feed to host experiment results,
  • Invite participation and engage fans
  • Issued social media news releases targeting global media and science/education influencers – drawing attention to GnomeExperiment.com
  • Provided tools for participants/fans to share involvement
  • Shared content, including travel snaps of the gnome, video and facts about gravity across social and traditional media


By combining little-known gravitational science theory and the appeal of proving it using a travelling garden gnome, we sparked global conversations.

Our campaign took Kern from laboratories and schools into people’s daily lives. Millions learned about gravity, tens of thousands shared our content, and thousands volunteered to take part.

Week One After Launch

  • 16,386 websites linked to Kern’s GnomeExperiment.com
  • News, science and education shows globally ran Kern segments
  • GnomeExperiment.com saw 52,425 views, (new participant enlisting every 20 seconds)

By Week Two

  • Coverage reached an audience of 355,378,000+ across 152 countries
  • 1042% ROI achieved based on new distributor sign-ups alone
  • Schools globally added Kern’s story to the curriculum
  • The experiment became a TED talk

The experiment continues… recently visiting Newton’s apple tree with BBC’s Newsround and earth’s upper atmosphere with NASA.

What’s next? Kern and his trusty scales will be accompanying the Discovery Channel for an entire science series.

Business outcome

Kern’s Gnome Experiment became a global sensation. Making science accessible and building Kern’s brand reputation globally, we:

1. Drove sales:

  • Product sales to target groups increased by 22%
  • 2,200 former customers got back in touch
  • 1,445 new leads generated: 40% schools, 25% scientists

2. Generated conversations: Kern and its USP were debated amongst scholars, scientists and the public across all media. Its experiment increased understanding of the issues of gravity and weight measurement reaching an audience of 350 million+. Corporate website visits increased 256% and Gnome Experiment volunteers ranged from schoolchildren to internationally acclaimed scientists.

3. Raised awareness: Globally, people became enthralled by the Gnome Experiment as it brought science to life. Kern drew the attention of popular science publications, national newspapers, influential online publications, broadcast news and social media. For example: New Scientist, Fox News, BBC, the Metro, Le Monde, Straights Times and National Geographic, etc.