TLC, or ‘Talk, Listen, Cuddle’, is an Essex campaign helping parents, carers and families give their young children the best start to life, developing their communication skills through playful learning at home. Research shows that over 50% of children in the UK start school with some type of transient speech, language or communication difficulty. In areas of high deprivation that number can increase to 89%. With the right support from the adults in a child’s life, these difficulties can be reduced.

With more than 80,000 children under the age of five living in Essex, this represents a significant number of children likely to experience some form of communication difficulty. Essex County Council therefore approached Mackman to deliver a campaign to promote the importance of supporting children’s early communication at home.

Brand Facts

  • Essex TLC is an Essex County Council initiative to help the development of speech, language and cognitive skills in children.
  • They encourage parents to create an environment that gives children all the stimulation, positive role modelling and human contact that they need.
  • Essex TLC regularly posts a range of ideas, top tips and games to support children’s development.

Project Facts

  • Essex County Council approached Mackman to build on an established countywide initiative to promote early language and communication called Talk, Listen, Cuddle (TLC).
  • A campaign was required that promoted the TLC initiative through branded marketing material, both physical and digital.
TLC Marketing Materials

The Client

Facilitating children’s early development

Essex TLC promotes the three key principles of building a child’s language and communication skills – talk, listen, and cuddle. The initiative needed to encourage parents and carers to support the development of early language and communication skills in their child, right from birth.

The TLC principles also educate parents to engage with their baby at specific points of the day, for example nappy changing. The project needed a clear campaign identity to be integrated with existing web and social media channels, and promote participation by families with lower literacy levels or English as an additional language.

The Challenge

The TLC campaign had to provide essential information for parents to support their child’s learning in the crucial early stages of development, while also providing visual stimulation for children in the form of cartoon characters and bright, simple colours.

Our Process

Supporting parents through resources & tips

Following engagement with the delivery team within Essex County Council, the development of a comprehensive brief was approved. A Mackman strategic marketing specialist then developed a campaign plan and collaborated with the creative and communications teams to deliver a distinctive campaign identity that would engage the various target audiences and facilitate effective communication, especially with those of lower literacy levels.

An online digital tool in the form of a web application was designed with mobile and portable device users as a primary audience. Importantly, bespoke sound files were developed and incorporated. The team at Essex County Council received training on how to use and update the web application.

The Results

In addition to the digital platform, a range of printed material was created and supplied in the form of a poster, pop-up banner, leaflet/wall frieze, stickers, and a bath frieze. A further project with Essex TLC was undertaken in 2020 to update the website and allow parents to navigate by their child’s age group and offer language variations to cater for a wider range of parents for whom English is not their first language.