Advertising Design Alumnus Scores Big Laughs with Wearable Tech for Kids

August 23, 2019

Advertising Design Alumnus Scores Big Laughs with Wearable Tech for Kids

CCS alumnus Steve Kerry (’12, Advertising Design) has worked on some pretty big campaigns since starting his advertising career. For five years at metro Detroit ad agency Leo Burnett, Kerry worked on campaigns for such clients as Chevy Silverado, United Way and GMC. Now an associate creative director for VMLY&R, a new global brand experience agency in Kansas City, Missouri, Kerry’s really got something to smile about. The agency was tapped to create a campaign for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, which wanted to feature kids’ reviews of state parks and attractions.

What better way to track fun than by tracking laughter?

An Ad Age Editor’s Pick, the campaign enlisted more than 200 kids to wear a “laugh tracker” while visiting state parks, trails, zoos and other outdoor sites. Much like a pedometer, but recording audible laughter instead of footsteps, the tracker measured heart rates as well as responses from squeals to giggles — and recorded more than 36,000 laughs over 450 hours of activities. This “excitement” data was then paired with surveys and candid comments via Kid Reviewed video booths across the state.

For example, at Navitat Knoxville, a tree-based adventure park featuring zip lining, kids experienced 27 average laughs per hour and 270 average moments of excitement per hour. And the Chattanooga Zoo recorded 156 avg. laughs per hour and a whopping 225.7 avg. moments of excitement.

The innovative campaign also called on country superstar Dolly Parton — whose Dollywood attraction “Wildwood Grove” hosted many of the kids — to create a short film explaining how the laugh trackers work.

To find out which Tennessee attractions are kid approved, visit