How a simple song has the power to get California to Talk. Read. Sing.

Remember jingles? Those hard-to-forget musical ditties that extolled the virtues of almost every product and service advertised in the 20th century? Remember “Plop Plop Fizz Fizz”? “You deserve a break today”? And that classic, “I’d like to buy the world a Coke,” revisited in the Mad Men finale and attributed to Don Draper’s EUREKA moment?

The American jingle was the most valuable concept in the communications toolbox for over 100 years. It was a simply brilliant way to cut through the clutter and brand a product or service. But with the advent of MTV, and the desire of recording artists to cash in on their extensive songbooks, jingles fell out of favor in the late 80’s. My generation of Mad Men and Women scorned them. “If you don’t have something to say, sing it” was the knock.

Today, Fraser Communications’ efforts with First 5 California to get parents to talk, read and sing to their children ages 0 to 5 has had us immersed in recent brain research. We discovered that, lo and behold, those ancient jingle writers were onto something: Human beings remember words better when they rhyme. And they REALLY remember them when those rhymes are set to music.

And so, we went back to the well, and wrote a jingle. Then because “Plop Plop Fizz Fizz” was made even more memorable by Speedy Alka Seltzer, we created three enthusiastic animated mascots to sing our song: The Smarter Birds – Parrot, Owl and Songbird.

Great music is hard to create. Great jingles even harder as there is less time to arrive at a melody and there are specific things you need to communicate. With Anthony Marinelli of Music Forever, we were able to access the most talented songwriters in Los Angeles, and compose a winning toe-tapping tune. Then, for our characters, we partnered with the inspired and skilled animators at The Mill.

We spent five months developing our Smarter Birds, writing their backstories, rewriting lyrics, listening to the melodies that could bring those lyrics to life, shooting, editing, and getting energized daily by our wonderful First 5 California partners, who were hugely supportive during this delightful journey.

There was a single focus to these efforts: We wanted the first-time exposure of the jingle to “stick” in the mind, and be hummable all day long.  And we succeeded, if the videos of children hearing it for the first time are any indication. Now, we’re taking our Smarter Birds on the digital and social media road. Our fingers are crossed and our toes are tapping that another generation of California parents will talk, read and sing (with our song in their repertoire!) to their children every day, exercising their brains, and helping them succeed in school. Did I tell you we’re also making Smarter Bird puppets? And writing a Smarter Birds activity book?

All these efforts fell into place beautifully, proving that even though a jingle is a simple thing, its power is enormous. Let the Smarter Birds fly.


How you can make your baby’s brain the most powerful computer in the world.

How powerful is a baby’s brain? What goes on in their little heads? Recently, there’s been an explosion of data telling us one thing: Babies brains are more capable than we previously thought. They’re elastic and demand to be stretched. Babies know more and can know more than we ever gave them credit for.

More than eighty percent of brain development happens in the first one thousand days of a child’s life.

From the moment they emerge into the world, billions of connections are being made inside a child’s brain, helping them understand the sounds, smells, touch, words and sights of the new world around them. Neurons send info to the brain at 150 miles per hour, no stop signs or speed bumps,  and every time a baby learns, the structure of their brain changes again. Every time.

But adult minds have a hard time understanding the complexities of the child’s brain. The activities of neurons, synapses, olfactory tract, frontal pole, facial nerve and more is complicated stuff. At Fraser Communications, we seek ways to make it as simple as we can, so the information is memorable, repeatable, and we can get more parents doing the things they need to do – earlier – to enrich their child’s development.

A baby’s brain is just like a smartphone.

Ahh… Your brand spanking new smartphone. iPhone or Android. You lift the pristine, branded lid off the box to reveal your pride and joy nestled tightly and protectively in a cocoon of world-class package design. The machine is ready. Ready to light up, make a sound, and guide you through the initial set up. But, by itself – even though it looks great and is essentially powerful – it’s of very little value. It really doesn’t do anything yet. It needs software.

Software is what makes the machine useful, makes it wonderful, and makes it yours. Your fingerprint keeps it secure, your email accounts allow you to communicate, your provider gives you access to the internet and the ability to make phone calls and text.  Your camera allows you to take countless pictures of yourself or what you’re about to eat, and you download apps to make it most interesting and powerful  communications device we’ve ever known.

Sounds just like baby.

Your baby’s cuter – at least to you – and even more precious than that smartphone.  The machinery’s in place, in an incredibly powerful, adaptive, expansive package that’s spent over 200,000 years in design and engineering. But, needs software. Voices, words, song, touch, sights, sounds, smells, and play is the software for their brains.

Talking to a baby gives them self-confidence and an emotional connection to the first voices they hear: you, the parent or caregiver. Syllables, vowels and consonants careen around their brain, lighting up connections, filling the brain with knowledge, and the brain gets bigger.

Reading to a baby gives them vocabulary. Attaching words to pictures gives the words and pictures meaning. Now, a baby’s able to recognize objects, call them by name, and understand what they are when you talk about them.

Singing to a baby soothes them, allows them to learn more while the rhyme of many songs helps them remember ideas and words.

The apps of talk, read, and sing helps billions of neurons connect. They exercise the baby’s brain, and help baby make sense of the world. These essential apps expand the brain, and make it stronger. The brain thirsts for this strength. It seeks stimulation. Rapidly, it becomes more powerful than any computer ever made.

The baby’s brain develops at such a dramatic speed that by the tender age of three, more than eighty percent of brain growth is completed. And sadly, unlike the phone, which stays intact in its box,  fully capable of doing what you want it to do when you want it to do it, your baby’s brain, devoid of the input, the software, weakens. According to research, it actually shrinks. That’s why it’s so important that parents talk, read and sing to them, from the moment they’re born. Truly, there’s not a moment to waste.

Put down the smartphone. Power up your baby’s brain.

You are the installers of the software – the talk, read, sing software that will determine whether baby will have a powerful brain, or one that won’t help them keep up with the world. The consequences of not installing the talk, read, sing apps are dire.

Americans spend five hours a day on their smartphones. They check social media seventeen times a day. We need to knock off at least one hour a day to empower the most important device in the world: A child’s brain between the ages of zero to three.

When we do that, your child has a better chance of keeping up, and excelling, in school and in life. They won’t get lost and give up by the third grade, get into drugs, become a teenage pregnancy statistic, or wind up on the wrong side of the law, and in jail. It’s that vital. Not just to you, your baby, but to society. So, put down the smart phone, and start uploading the software of talk, read, sing from the moment they’re born.

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