By Karyn Lu

(Above: Turner Broadcasting's Atlanta employees browse exhibits at the company's first Mini Maker Faire.)

On September 26, two super-fun, first-ever events happened at Turner's Techwood campus in Atlanta. We hosted TRENDSPIRE 2013 (a day-long trends summit) and Turner Mini Maker Faire (a DIY festival celebrating the Maker movement). These events were spearheaded by Turner Media Group's Insights & Inspiration team, which is charged with looking to the future and around the globe to identify emerging trends and opportunities, helping to drive innovation across Turner brands.

TRENDSPIRE 2013 was Turner's inaugural internal trends summit. It featured a stellar lineup of industry experts speaking to how current macro trends (e.g., Maker movement, Internet of Everything, Alternative Brand Currencies) are changing the industry. Highlights included a keynote from Steve Brown (Chief Evangelist and Futurist, Intel), who blew us away with a vision of how future technologies will dramatically change our lives and transform storytelling and entertainment as we know it; highlights of Coke's experiments with social vending machines from Brad Ruffkess (Global Connections Strategist, Coca-Cola); and a fantastic afternoon of sessions moderated by Jeff Chu (Editor-at-Large, Fast Company).

In addition to these industry experts, Turner speakers also highlighted areas where our brands are already innovating on-trend. For example, Scott Thomas (VP, Consumer Marketing, Cartoon Network) and Matthew Drooker (VP, Media Software & Services) spoke about two fantastic Cartoon Network executions at this year's San Diego Comic-Con: a digital scavenger hunt (on trend: Play) and Zoltron, a hacked vending machine that dispenses goodies in return for tweets (on trend: Alternative Brand Currencies). Other Turner speakers included Molly Battin (General Manager, upwave), speaking to health and happiness; Tricia Melton (SVP, Entertainment Marketing & Branding, TBS/TNT/TCM), speaking to engagement media; and Lila King (Senior Director, Social News, CNN), speaking to co-creation.

Down the hall from TRENDSPIRE 2013, employees got hands-on at Turner Mini Maker Faire, a festival celebrating all things DIY. The event was aimed at making the Maker movement come to life for employees. Turner Mini Maker Faire was independently organized and operated under license from Maker Media, Inc., making Turner the first-ever corporation granted a license to do this (these licenses are typically issued to communities and cities to organize Maker Faires open to the public).

Turner Mini Maker Faire highlighted both Turner employees who are makers, as well as incredible projects from established Atlanta makerspaces. Turner employees showcased their talents in a range of projects, from how they recently built a piano staircase inside CNN Center to crochet projects, wood turning and hand-made surfboards. The IT Strategy team also spotlighted Zoltron, Cartoon Network's hacked social vending machine, which was a hit.

In addition to our Turner makers, we got to learn about and see great works from Atlanta makerspaces such as FreesideMASS CollectiveGeekspace Gwinnett and Decatur Makers (and many others). Highlights included a 7ft Tesla coil, an infinity mirror, flying drones, ceramic robots, and 3D printing. the Atlanta Mini Maker Faire also had a big presence at our event.

Attendees also got to participate in some hands-on workshops learning to solder and making bouncy balls.

Internal co-sponsors for both TRENDSPIRE 2013 + Turner Mini Maker Faire were Turner Studios, Turner NextGen, and Turner Sports' MyIdea initiative. Additional production support was provided by Native Marketing, an agency based out of Asheville, NC.

Both events were a huge success, and we hope to do it again in 2014!

Steve Brown with Intel delivers the keynote address at TRENDSPIRE

Steve Brown with Intel delivers the keynote address at TRENDSPIRE

L-R: Jeff Chu from Fast Company moderates a panel discussion with Caitlin Burns (Starlight Runner), Michael Dowling (Say.So), Rick Liebling (Young & Rubicam), and Tricia Melton (TBS/TNT/TCM)

L-R: Jeff Chu from Fast Company moderates a panel discussion with Caitlin Burns (Starlight Runner), Michael Dowling (Say.So), Rick Liebling (Young & Rubicam), and Tricia Melton (TBS/TNT/TCM)

Employees walk through Turner's Mini Maker Faire at the network's Techwood campus in Atlanta, GA

Employees walk through Turner's Mini Maker Faire at the network's Techwood campus in Atlanta, GA

Turner employee Aaron Zimlich participates in a soldering workshop

Turner employee Aaron Zimlich participates in a soldering workshop

An exhibit at Turner's Mini Maker Faire

An exhibit at Turner's Mini Maker Faire

Turner employee Anastasia Oppert shows off a bouncy ball that she made during a workshop

Turner employee Anastasia Oppert shows off a bouncy ball that she made during a workshop

Photo Credit: John Nowak, Turner Image

Karyn Lu is Senior Manager, Insights & Inspiration for Turner Media Group