The Lithuanian IP, about a five-year-old girl and her wild imagination, continues to grow its licensing business that includes more than 100 publications, home market sales of over 1.9 million consumer products in 2022 alone, a live theatrical show, and a new movie; company looking to bring these and a planned series to new international markets.
Nelly Jelly is a unique and important success story when it comes to children’s IP. Though it launched as a stand-alone illustrated book, it has since gone on to sell around 2.3 million copies of its main line of picture books alone and achieve a print run of 30K for its top books - compared to its home Lithuanian market’s average of 3K. The brand’s rapid local expansion happened thanks in no small part to its charming main character. The protagonist — a five-year-old girl whose wild imagination lets her explore a magical universe to overcome difficult, everyday situations — answers a modern child’s many important questions.
“Children resonate with the character because they share a lot of the same concerns, such as: why should I do my chores? Why shouldn’t I be afraid of the dark?” Greta Stankutė, brand development manager at Nelly Jelly, said. “Nelly Jelly is a small girl, but she independently looks for these answers by diving into a magical world of imagination, where quirky characters and scenarios help her find solutions and look at the universe through a surreal lens. Children can go along on this journey and learn valuable life skills, which are highly appreciated by their parents.”
Locally-established children’s phenomenon
The IP’s most recent venture is an animated movie that launched April 21 in Lithuania. Titled Nelly Jelly: My Movie (Kakė makė: mano filmas in the original language), it is not just another children's movie. Rather, it is a rich and colorful experience that seeks to inspire children to be creative, brave, and confident. Through the adventures of its engaging and authentic lead, Nelly Jelly, the film encourages children to discover themselves and the world around them in interesting and exciting ways. The movie is not just about having fun, but also about conveying important messages to children and their parents. The content is meant to be a feel-good haven for children, evoking emotions and encouraging them to talk with their families about relevant topics, hum and dance to the songs, and even create their own films. As the lyrics of the film’s theme song suggest, life is full of magic, and the movie seeks to help children find it. A true marker of the IP’s success, movie theaters across Lithuania have taken up large marketing campaigns to promote the film.
The film is only one example in the IP’s long journey, as it has made significant strides in publishing and licensing for the domestic market, releasing more than 100 different titles since the launch of the initial book. In addition, from electronics to live musicals and theater productions, the brand’s impressive portfolio of business ventures has shown its wide applicability. This growth has seen a lot of support from preschoolers and their families, who just can’t get enough of the magic and wonder that Nelly Jelly brings to their lives.
In addition to the animated film, Nelly Jelly is expanding its digital presence with plans to launch an animated series based on the picture books. Each chapter covers a new day in the girl’s life, where real and imaginary friends — from magical gnomes to a quirky one-eyed cat — are there to help her tackle the toughest dilemmas around, from lazy days to tricky chores and beyond.
While the movie was originally created for the Lithuanian market, its beloved characters and relatable themes have the potential to resonate with audiences around the world. That’s why the IP is currently seeking an international team of scriptwriters, animators, and children’s psychologists to help adapt the series for a global audience.
IP set for global expansion through animation
Simona Krasauskienė, Nelly Jelly CEO, has an idea that could change the game in the global market. Her secret weapon? A spunky character that embarks on thrilling adventures while tackling real-world issues that matter to kids and their families.
According to Krasauskienė, from global citizenship to empathy, diversity, and environmental awareness, this little hero could have it all! In a world that’s constantly bombarded with gloom and doom, she believes that Nelly Jelly’s IP can offer a glimmer of hope to children who might be feeling a tad uneasy and unsettled. “After all,” she noted, “who wouldn’t want to journey alongside a courageous and wise-cracking character who’s there to inspire your creativity and show you the magical moments in daily life?”
“Children experience their own problems in their own world, plus absorb their parents’ worries, and such negative emotions tend to impact their social abilities and imagination,” she continued. “Our IP provides families with content that is both educational and inspiring, yet optimistic and fun to watch. Each of our stories can add to a child’s everyday life: how to let go of fear, how to believe in dreams, and how to connect with parents, among other lessons.”
The team behind Nelly Jelly is now on a mission to expand globally: they’ve got extensive plans to co-produce cutting-edge animated content with top-notch partners, and they’re eyeing up markets in the EU, U.S., and Canada. To make this dream a reality, they’re looking for allies to join forces with — from production gurus to distribution experts — and they’re calling out to the leading broadcasters in the world of children’s animation looking for a new take on the modern child.
“There is reason to believe the IP could successfully scale on an international level due to the devotion we’ve seen not only from children but parents as well,” Krasauskienė explained. “Our ambitions do not stop at simply releasing an animation project abroad, we want to replicate our success through, for example, publishing and licensing agencies and strengthen the brand’s position through multiple touchpoints.”
Nelly Jelly’s success story is a testament to the power of imagination and perseverance. With its unique and lovable character, the IP has captured the hearts of children and parents and is now well-positioned to take the world by storm.