NEW YORK, N.Y. (February 8, 2008) -- Ragdoll, award-winning producers of Teletubbies, has announced that its New York-based marketing and licensing arm, Ragdoll USA, will join with Autism Speaks to help promote awareness of the early warning signs of autism to parents and caregivers. The two organizations have agreed to jointly explore a range of initiatives, including the development of Teletubbies products designed to address the developmental needs of children with autism.
The co-branded initiatives will be introduced beginning this spring, coinciding with national Autism Awareness Month in April. A co-produced(PSA) will air in April on the 24-hour preschool network, PBS KIDS Sprout, both on-air and online. In association with Autism Speaks and select manufacturers, Ragdoll will begin to develop a line of Teletubbies products that promote the development of skills in children with autism. Resource guides and informative product packaging will be created to drive awareness of the relationship and its important messages. Ragdoll has already incorporated information about autism in more than 100,000 Teletubbies Grandparents Guides, available in both English and Spanish. The guides are being distributed through local PBS stations and are also available online.
“Since Teletubbies first launched a decade ago, the parents and caregivers of many children with autism have shared with us their own stories of how their children uniquely connect with Teletubbies, and how remarkably they respond to the program,” said Andrew Kerr, EVP, Global Licensing and Marketing, Ragdoll. “The strength of these testimonials has given us the inspiration to partner with Autism Speaks, and directly engage with those who live with the effects of autism every day.”
“We are delighted to have the opportunity to spread our message of autism awareness through this relationship with the Teletubbies brand,” said Mark Roithmayr, President of Autism Speaks. “For families with young children, the Teletubbies are a household staple. These are exactly the families Autism Speaks is trying to reach as we stress the importance of recognizing the early signs of autism and getting help if there are any concerns about a child's development.”
Now celebrating its impressive ten-year history as a pop culture icon, Teletubbies continues to expand its roster of partners and fans. Ragdoll's relationship with Autism Speaks has expanded since the two worked together in 2007. As part of its Global 10-Year Celebration, the Teletubbies brand took on a new look – a striking update on the classic Teletubbies styling designed with fashion-conscious tweens, teens and young adults in mind. A Pop-Up Shop selling and showcasing these and other 10-Year Celebration items was opened for a limited time last April, with proceeds benefiting Autism Speaks.
Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by extreme behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 150 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The diagnosis of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.
ABOUT AUTISM SPEAKS
Autism Speaks is dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders, to funding research into the causes, prevention and treatments for autism, and to advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. It was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Bob Wright is Vice Chairman, General Electric, and served as chairman and chief executive officer of NBC Universal for more than twenty years. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.
ABOUT PBS KIDS SPROUTSM
PBS KIDS SproutSM, the first 24-hour preschool destination available on TV, on demand and online for kids ages 2-5 and their parents and caregivers, was created as a partnership among Comcast Corporation, HIT Entertainment, PBS and Sesame Workshop. Since debuting its video on demand (VOD) service in April 2005, PBS KIDS Sprout has become the #1 On Demand service for younger children, generating over 350 million orders. The 24-hour digital channel, which launched in September 2005 along with the website (SproutOnline.com), is the only channel that follows the day of child from breakfast to bedtime with its distinctive programming. Currently, Sprout is available in 35 million unique households.
The network's program lineup of gold-standard, curriculum-based children's shows includes: Sesame Street®, Bob the Builder™, Barney & Friends™, Thomas & Friends™, Angelina Ballerina™, Sagwa: The Chinese Siamese Cat™, Caillou®, The Berenstain Bears™, Jay Jay the Jet Plane®, Teletubbies™, Dragon Tales™, Pingu™, Make Way For Noddy™, Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks™ and more.
Ragdoll, a privately owned family company, was founded by acclaimed children's television program maker, Anne Wood, in 1984 and has produced more than 1,400 programs aimed at the youngest viewers. Ragdoll-produced series for children can be seen in more than 120 countries and territories around the world, and in the UK are screened by the BBC, ITV and Five. Ragdoll's best-known programs include the phenomenally-successful Teletubbies, who celebrated ten years on television in 2007; the super-brave superhero Brum; the cheeky and mischievous Rosie and Jim; the adventurous Tiny, Tom and Tilly of Tots TV; the imaginative and magical Boohbah; and BadJelly the Witchand Open a Door, both of which have achieved international recognition and acclaim. Currently, Ragdoll is in final production on two new commissions for BBC Television – In the Night Garden, which launched on CBeebies and BBC2 in March 2007, and Tronji, set to air on CBBC in 2008. In September 2006, Ragdoll and BBC Worldwide announced a new joint venture, Ragdoll Worldwide, to manage and exploit the Ragdoll catalog, which includes Teletubbies, In the Night Garden, Brum and Boohbah. Ragdoll retains all UK broadcast rights and Ragdoll USA Inc, part of the new joint venture, will continue to manage the Ragdoll portfolio in North America. For more information on Ragdoll Limited, visit website .