Since the release of the first book about Nelly Jelly in Lithuania, the beloved children’s character has burgeoned into a competitive and modern IP. Looking towards global expansion, the brand is building on their current portfolio of content and is looking for suitable partners to launch an animated series.
Nelly Jelly — the character of an illustrated book — is the most recognizable children’s IP in Lithuania. Nelly Jelly is a small girl ruling a big universe: a 5-year-old who tames monsters, pirates and gnomes, travels in her vast magical world and finds all the needed solutions to her problems without leaving her home.
Problems that arise in Nelly Jelly’s universe are common to children in any place in the world — for example — why are parents always so busy? Why is being lazy bad? Or why should I always listen to my Mom and Dad? Inspiring other little girls and boys to be like her, Nelly Jelly proactively looks for solutions to her problems and enables her imagination. All of a sudden, a whole magical world opens up, where she faces unlimited tools, space, and solutions to problems.
Nelly Jelly was initially born as the brainchild of writer and artist Lina Žutautė, who had promised her son to tell a different bedtime story every night. The artist realized that her son was getting excited about endless stories of an inquisitive, witty girl, always in the mood for something extraordinary — such as traveling to space, baking pies or fighting with a giant. This was how the first book of Nelly Jelly was born.
The success of the first book gave way to launch the Nelly Jelly brand in the home market.
“The amazing popularity of Nelly Jelly meant a huge brand was starting to enter the market,” says Greta Stankutė, brand development manager of Nelly Jelly. “The children and their parents have spoken: they loved the new character. Our research shows that the young generation is curious, creative, and with a passion for technology. A team of top-level professionals joined in, and soon it was developed as a very successful local brand.”
Nelly Jelly’s achievements in publishing and licensing in the home market are noteworthy, as it has released over 100 various publications since the first book. The brand’s current portfolio of content answers various “what & how” questions for children in the form of 13 picture books, 6 encyclopedias, 4 family books, 3 sound books, and 9 activity books.
“We support building traction for our products by increasing brand awareness through different channels and touchpoints such as books, toys, edible items, clothing, theater productions and musicals,” says Greta Stankutė.
Nelly Jelly has a successful track record in 9 different categories, from supplements to consumer electronics, proving their wide applicability and relevance for preschoolers and their families. The brand sold 1.9 million consumer products in 2022 (the TA size in the country is 140 000).
The brand’s digital products are built to be creative, witty and fun — just as the younger generation or Nelly Jelly herself. For example, if the brand releases a new speaker, it doesn’t only play sound, but also dances. The scent diffuser is also a night lamp that narrates fairy tales.
Nelly Jelly is now expanding from its local market and looking for suitable partners.
“Nelly Jelly has great potential and we aim to to take the IP on a global journey,” says Greta Stankutė. “We know our consumers and we know their needs. After years of experience in the local market, we also understand global digital trends and the preferences of the youngest generation worldwide. This is why our next step is focused on animation.”
Animation is the tool that Nelly Jelly is planning to use that will, the company says, encompass all the functions of their IP. At the same time, animation will meet the combined needs of all interested parties: kids who are hungry for inspirational, attention-grabbing content as well as content producers who are increasingly focusing on specialized content channels.
“We realize that the current market situation is very beneficial for childrens’ content channels — industry giants such as “Sky” or YouTube’s “CocoMelon” already have their own children’s channels. Nelly Jelly’s current goal in the global market is an animated series, and we are currently looking for co-producers, distributors and broadcasters to work with,” she noted.
The team behind Nelly Jelly is already laying a strong foundation for global expansion by finding partnership opportunities in publishing and licensing. They aim to realize these ambitions by participating in some of the biggest industry events this year — such as Bologna Book Fair, MIP TV, Annecy Film Festival, BLE 2023, MIP JUNIOR — and understanding the necessity to have a strong 360 degree plan for global exposure from day one.
Talking about the future and the market situation, Greta Stankutė believes that: “The world is becoming “kid-first,” and more and more brands will make radical changes in product design to better meet the needs of children and their parents. Finding like-minded partners with a shared vision could be the key to reaching an audience of millions. The brands need to produce content that is ready to be immediately consumed — and loved.”
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