TWC's Kernel Gets Hands-On For A New "Curiosity" Ad Campaign

TWC's Kernel Gets Hands-On For A New "Curiosity" Ad Campaign

Thursday, July 23, 2015 - 1:40pm

CAMPAIGN: Connect A Million Minds


By Tara DeGeorges, Director, Digital Content, TWC

This spring we helped launch a new and improved Connectory database at Made possible by Time Warner Cable (TWC) as part of our Connect a Million Minds (CAMM) initiative, The Connectory is the largest and most comprehensive directory of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) opportunities and programs in the country.

To promote this family resource, we launched an original ad campaign that cues parents to signs that their kids are interested in STEM – by catching them in some MythBusters-esque experiments – and points them to The Connectory to find local learning opportunities that’ll satisfy that natural curiosity.

One of the signature ingredients to CAMM’s success is that when we want to do something really well, we think about how we can enlist the support and talent of our colleagues across the company. So, when we needed a whip smart creative shop to bring our curiosity-meets-opportunity theme to life on air, we tapped Kernel, TWC Media’s in-house, full service ad agency.

The Connectory promotional campaign was the first-of-its kind for the Kernel staff. The team, comprised of 100 employees across the country, typically creates ads for TWC clients – from local car services, to national retailers like Leading the project were Kernel employees Travis Fox, national production director and Michael McIntosh, motion graphics designer, with support from Tracy Cherry, project manager.

I spoke with Travis, Michael and Tracy to learn more about the campaign, the development of which spanned a year from project concept to air.


TD: The experiments featured in the PSAs – a Breaking Bad-worthy electromagnet, a booby-trapped kitchen – are awesomely over the top. How did you come up with them?

MM: We wanted activities that like, a mini Fonzie would do. I’m not saying we wanted kids to fix a jukebox with a pocket comb or anything, but we went after experiments that would tap into kids’ mischievous sides. Knowing the zaniness that runs through a child’s mind, Travis was the ideal person to bring that vision to life.

TF: In true Connect a Million Minds spirit, we got hands-on and MADE everything that you see in the commercials. The volcano? That was a 3 ft. x 3 ft. x 30″ paper mache mountain that my son and his friends helped me build. The ice flying out of the icemaker in the Kitchen spot? That wasn’t any movie magic! After a failed attempt with my son’s pitching machine, we outfitted a big PVC pipe with a valve to generate a rapid, but controlled release of ice. We had to make sure that it would hurl cubes across the kitchen without hurting anyone.

TD: What made this project unique?

TF: The campaign was a huge opportunity for us to spread our wings and work with some amazing people that had coast to coast reach – not just me in Lincoln, Tracy in Columbus and Michael in New York, but also the team behind CAMM out of New York as well, VP of Corporate Social Responsibility Tessie Topol and Director of Strategic Philanthropy Leah Gutstadt. We delivered some of the best creative I’ve ever had a chance to work with, and for a national cause platform, which was a new and exciting challenge for us. To be able to embrace the creative, tell a story, evoke an emotion and generate activity – getting people to visit The Connectory and interact with the campaign content on social – is just gravy.

MM: I really liked the 360 style of working, and I got to use skill sets that I don’t necessarily get to use on a daily basis. Like, I helped develop the PSA concept with my colleague Molly and write the script. Plus, I got to art direct, do graphics and edit. Tracy oversaw the project timeline, budget and campaign social media efforts. Travis was a jack of all trades; he was in charge of location, casting, props and making the experiments, of course.  He also stars in two of the spots, Laundry and Electromagnet.

TC: We often joke that there’s not a Kernel spot made in our Nebraska market that Travis is not in. He’s been everything from a King to an elf.

TF: Once we needed a Christmas elf for an ad we were making about a mall.  Instead of finding anyone else, and since I had a white beard, I just did it.

TD: Seeing the ads on air and in social media, how do you think the final product came out?

TF:  I’ve got a couple of crazies of my own at home – my kids are 6,11 and 14. I wanted to help create a campaign that channels their energy, and I think we did it. Sure, we could have created something stodgy and corporate, but it wouldn’t have generated the same amount of interest. Plus, thanks to a lot of trial, error and glue, I’ve got a homemade lava recipe that would merit the blue ribbon at any reputable science fair.


See how Kernel put its mad scientist spirit to work by watching the new TV spots for The Connectory. Got your own curious kid at home? Visit to find hands-on STEM learning opportunities in your area that will keep them busy – and your home intact – all Summer long.



Tara DeGeorges
Director of Digital Content, Time Warner Cable