Introduced as a book character in Lithuania, Nelly Jelly went to create an entire universe for kids and now aims to populate the global animation world with a first sleight of exciting episodes
Every year, the executives in charge of new content for children in TV, film and streaming services scratch their heads furiously in search of the next big hit. This process reminds alchemists brewing wonder elixir in their mysterious laboratories. To come up with a hit and to avoid a miss, a successful recipe must be concocted as follows. The first ingredient must be a proven success in the home market. Taking a chance on a brand-new global project is fun but risky. Then it always helps to add a second ingredient – content pouring in from already published books. And, thirdly and finally, this content must necessarily be licensed – surrounded by product lines that help to convert the legend of this animation to everyday life.
Here Comes the Nelly Jelly World
Nelly Jelly ticks all three boxes neatly. But let’s delve deeper behind the reasoning of the new 2D animated series targeted at the families with 3-6 years old kids.
In Lithuania since 2010 it has been known as Kake Make. First making an appearance as a character in a first book by a debuting author, and then growing into a publishing phenomenon with 11 illustrated titles and half a million copies in between them. Which, in a country of less than three million, means that every single kid or toddler has seen or read at least one of them.
Main titles were followed and complemented by 105 other publications with runway of more than 3 million copies so far as well as an ever-expanding licensing business with numerous products created and launched together with more than 30 partners.
Sooner or later the desire to teleport domestic success to global audiences had to become irresistible. Hence a new name for Kake Make – Nelly Jelly.
The Curious Case of The Children’s Curiosity
Lina Žutautė, creator of Kake Make and Nelly Jelly firmly believes that dreams and expectations of kids around the world are much more universal than that of adults. “Studies show that 4 years old children ask as many as 200 or even 300 questions per day. That sums up to 40 thousand questions in their childhood. What is light? Why does the sun go down? What lurks in the dark? Why do we need to follow some rules? Why do we have to tidy after ourselves? What is friendship? And so on, and so on.
Nelly Jelly is exactly the type of curious and irreverent kid, who is never shy to ask such questions and explore answers to them.
And, as every true hero, she has faithful sidekicks to help to navigate those tricky questions. Nelly Jelly is a 5-year-old girl who discovers the world through her own childlike fantasies together with her best imaginary friends Onster and Ponster, her dog Choo Choo and her beloved family: Mom, Dad, and Grandma.
“As you may see from the success of our idea in Lithuania, or from similar success stories throughout the world, the news about the demise of children’s books is really premature”, says Lina Žutautė. “At the same time, this does not mean that it should stay on the book pages only. Far from it. We have games, we have online videos, now it is the high time to launch animated series. And we have the first season all mapped out and ready”.
Pilot Season – Lights, Camera, Revolution
Behind the storyline, developed by an international team of scriptwriters, animators and even children’s psychologists, each episode has the following milestones:
- First, Houston, we have a problem: not listening to parents, laziness, fears, competition, etc.
- Second, identifying the problem and finding a solution – all from a child’s perspective.
- Third, an imaginary world: imaginary characters come to assist in dealing with the situation.
- Four, the AHA! moment: the solution makes the character happy and creates a magic feeling.
- And, finally, back-to-life: the job is done and now everyone can have some rest before the next day’s adventure.
Each episode is like a new day in Nelly Jelly’s life, making her universe grow and develop. Nelly Jelly equals any child in the world. It is easy for children to identify with her: her childhood is a child’s childhood, with plenty of dreams, adventures, as well as real and imaginary friends. A year has 365 days, and each one of them, spent with Nelly Jelly, can be truly exciting.
The Nelly Jelly World team is in the process of drafting scripts for an animated series based on 12 already published picture books. Target audience are families with children aged 3-6 years.
While so far eight episodes are in the pipeline – Nelly Jelly & The Mess-Mess Gnome, Nelly Jelly & the Runaway Ears, Nelly Jelly & the Dream Birthday, Nelly Jelly & and the Fear of Darkness, Nelly Jelly & Superdad’s Day, Nelly Jelly & a Cat for One Week, Nelly Jelly & the Friendship Broom, Nelly Jelly & the Tooth Fairy’s Party, the team also has plans to create new episodes, covering a variety of topics: from Christmas to sustainability and other relevant themes.
And Now for Something Completely Different
With this portfolio Nelly Jelly Team is now traversing the world, attending trade fairs and conferences, and meeting potential partners. “We are very much in a startup approach, where anything is possible provided you have an innovative product and put every effort in making it happen”, says Simona Krasauskienė, who runs the entire operation in Lithuania and worldwide. “And we are very much looking forward to closing deals with such majors as Netflix, Disney+ as well as other streaming and traditional TV channels. We have such a deal secured in our local market, Baltics, Poland, have made good progress in negotiating others, and believe sky’s the limit for the Nelly Jelly World”.
One may only wonder what would Nelly Jelly make out of this, when she will grow up and will have to answer questions instead of asking them?