B2B PR Case Study: The Gnome Experiment

Posted on: 2012-12-03 in Examples   |   Tagged: b2b pr case study case study pr case study

The world’s first mass participation gravity experiment - inspiring 350 million+ people in 152 countries and increasing the Kern's sales by 22% - by Ogilvy PR (UK)

Objectives and Target Audience

Precision scales manufacturer Kern & Sohn sought to differentiate itself and grow market share globally within science and education. With millions of schools and laboratories worldwide, it faced the challenge of a highly commoditised marketplace and generally disinterested media.

Three key objectives were set:

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


Ogilvy harnessed little-known gravitational theory to create the world’s first mass-participation gravity experiment; developing engaging, sharable content by:

• Giving Kern a personality to resonate across media

• Targeting influencers via new channels; encouraging interaction with brand and products

• Amplifying content sharing across social media

• Creating local and global stories through targeted activity at iconic locations (CERN/South Pole/etc.)

Implementation methods

Ogilvy created a Chip-proof garden Gnome; inviting scientists and existing customers globally to weigh it before sending it on to the next. To do this they:

• Circulated a single flight-case containing the gnome and some 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












Creativity and originality

By combining little-known gravitational science theory and the appeal of proving it using a travelling garden gnome, the campaign sparked global conversation. It took Kern from laboratories and schools into people’s daily lives. Millions learned about gravity, tens of thousands shared the content, and thousands volunteered to take part.

Results and Outcome

Kern’s Gnome Experiment became a global sensation, bringing together academics, scientists, media and the public. Fulfilling all objectives it made science accessible, building Kern’s brand reputation globally.


• 22% sales increase

• 2,200 former customers got back in touch

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


Kern and its USP were debated amongst media, scholars, scientists and the general public; reaching an audience of 350 million+


Kern drew the attention of popular science publications, national newspapers, broadcast news and social media. Corporate website visits increased 256% and experiment volunteers ranged from schoolchildren to internationally acclaimed scientists.

Gnome Plane 1

Week One After Launch:

• News, science and education shows globally ran dedicated Kern segments (BBC/Discovery/TF1/etc.)

• 52,425 views on GnomeExperiment.com - a volunteer every 20 seconds

• 16,386 websites link to GnomeExperiment.com

By Week Two:

• Coverage reached an audience of 355,378,000+ across 152 countries (Metro/Le Figaro/National Geographic/New Scientist/etc.)

• 1042% ROI achieved against distributor sign-ups

• Schools added Kern’s story to curriculum

• Experiment became a TED talk

Recent activity:

• The Gnome went into near space as he flew into the stratosphere to become the first gnome in zero G

BBC Newsround has conducted a weighing at the home of Isaac Newton

• OPR arranged for Kern the Gnome and his scales to regularly feature on a global Discovery Channel show, ensuring the experiment continues… a priceless result for an earned media initiative


<£10,000 for PR

Are you interested in reading more posts like this one? Sign up here for our fortnightly updates on the B2B PR Blog's top posts, competitions and opportunities to contribute.

UK Agency Awards Winner 2016

About this blog

The B2B PR Blog is a resource for both PR professionals and people working in B2B industries on how to devise and implement successful B2B PR campaigns. The blog was founded by B2B PR specialist Heather Baker, who runs video production and corporate animation agency TopLine Film and digital PR and SEO agency  TopLine Comms. The B2B PR Blog takes contributions from sensible industry folk with something interesting to say.


Read more


Enter your email address to receive our blog feed: