Yummy Yummy: Top 7 Business Lessons from Wiggles
At Macquarie University in the early 1990s, three Australian early childhood education students, Murray Cook, Greg Page and Anthony Field, decided they felt the need to dress in brightly colored red, yellow and blue (respectively) suits that looked like the uniforms from the original series “Star Trek”. It wasn’t long before Anthony Field’s bandmate from The Cockroaches, Jeff Fatt, was convinced to put on a purple shirt and start entertaining at birthday parties as they danced and sang about fruit salad and kangaroos.
If you are the parent of a young child, you probably know this Australian quartet as The Wiggles, which are the Beatles, Monkees or ‘N Sync of the children’s ensemble. They are the highest paid artists in Australia, ahead of Russell Crowe, Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman.
You know right away when you watch their DVDs and videos (which you’ll watch, at least 200 times each) and their TV show four times a day on Playhouse Disney that these guys are definitely not an American creation. Mister Rogers, Mister Dressup, and Bozo the Clown are all gone, and no modern grown American man would dress up in fun costumes and entertain children with songs about “Yummy, yummy fruit salad!”
His lost. The Wiggles, who earn $ 14 million a year, are the ultimate kid sensation, and what they can teach us about success and finding their life’s passion will inspire American businesses to play guitar and dance with Wiggles’ friends. , Wags the Dog. , Henry the Octopus, Dorothy the Friendly Dinosaur and Captain Feathersword the Friendly Pirate, who acts with a lighthearted bravado that would make Johnny Depp want to slit his pirate throat.
1. Do what’s good for your audience without lecturing.
The Wiggles don’t resort to after-school special messages. Do you want to know the value of a healthy diet? Eat fruit salad! Exercise? Let’s get up and “Romp Bomp a Stomp”, or dance and play, with Dorothy! Let’s do the pirate dance with Captain Feathersword and race after the Wiggles in their big red car. Songs do what songs, dance, and theater were originally designed to do: convey knowledge. They do it in a fun, smart, colorful and eye-catching way. The three Wiggles (Murray, Jeff, and Greg) who have ECE degrees, and their own children, know that children can understand what is beneficial to them without being spoon-fed. And Jeff … well, sleepy Jeff shows everyone the value of a good nap.
2. Find a way to include everyone and you will reap the rewards.
Jeff, who does not have an ECE degree, was shy about getting involved with children, according to a Knight-Ridder article, “If You Have Young Children, Get Ready for Wiggle” by Rod Harmon. Greg, Anthony, and Murray came up with Jeff’s constant dream and joke of asking kids in the videos and TV show to yell “Wake up, Jeff!” This has become so popular that there is actually a video of Wiggles, “Wake Up, Jeff!” From the first Wiggles video to the current videos, Jeff can be seen becoming more and more involved with the children, singing, dancing and playing, although he is calmer than the other three. Kids are always drawn to someone who is slightly different, and Jeff stands out even when he dances with a large green dinosaur reciting poetry and a purple dancing octopus. The other three Wiggles seem to foster their uniqueness. Of all the Jeff videos, CDs, and dolls they’re selling, the approach works! When Wiggles tours the United States, Jeff will be bullied by kids too young to go crazy over Justin Timberlake.
3) Keep him alive and in touch.
The Wiggles could get away with making DVDs, TV shows, and albums for their fans for the rest of their lives. But everyone is used to interacting. Murray, Greg, and Anthony hoped to be teachers. Jeff and Anthony played to crowds as members of the cockroaches. They include real life children, including members of their own families (as you can see in their video and DVD credits), in their videos and talk to them. In a scene from “Hoop Dee Doo! It’s a Wiggly Party”, several children make emu skirts while one of the Wiggles talks to them. Without question, Wiggles’ live shows are no different, including versions in Asia that will feature local native speakers as clones of Wiggles (“The Wide World of Wiggles,” February 6, Newsweek Web exclusive). Even Dorothy has her own dance party on tour. Whether you’re sending in a giant green dinosaur with a floppy white hat or introducing yourself, don’t underestimate the value of making contact and getting involved. Running and jumping with the kids is fun too (no wonder Anthony, who’s always eating, stays slim!)
4) Don’t follow the crowd or the market.
Most American children’s shows that aren’t from Disney, nor Nick Jr, nor PBS, seem to be designed as 22-minute commercials for dolls or action figures, as well as ways to keep kids passively entertained. The traditional wisdom has been: children will get bored if there is no action all at once and there will be no way to make money doing something that is good for them. The Wiggles have shown this to be false. The kids dance and sing along with Jeff, Murray, Greg, Anthony, and their friends, instead of sitting down to eat the sugary meal of the day and mindlessly stare at a strange green monster that’s attacked only to reappear in the next episode. With an epidemic of diabetes mellitus and obesity in American children, Wiggle’s approach is not only positive, it continues to generate success for all four of them.
Wiggle themselves doubted there was an audience to help children learn through music and dance. A booking agent told them there would be no money, but they stood their ground and became very popular in Australia. America was next and the Wiggles are now a solid hit at Playhouse Disney, with tours sold out, they’ve even had to add a second and third show in many cities.
5) Becoming international or multicultural is not that difficult.
The Wiggles don’t need a multicultural sensitivity training class. After all, when your friends are a singing dog, a rose-eating dinosaur, and an octopus with an underwater band, you have no problem with diversity. They regularly include Australian, Irish, Spanish and other songs in their act. The franchise is expanding to Asia. If you think this TV show doesn’t sound like a hit in Japan, you’ve never seen “Pokémon” or anime, or the old classic “Ultraman.”
6) Stay true to your roots.
There’s no question that Murray, Jeff, Greg, and Anthony are Australian (again, four Americans wouldn’t do what they do), although Dorothy sounds a bit more British. Songs like “Willaby Wallaby Woo” speak of their heritage from below, and you don’t see them suddenly moving into a mansion in Malibu, pretending they are rich Hollywood Yanks with no family or children.
7) Your family life only enhances your work and your passion.
Three of the Wiggles are married, Jeff apparently too sleepy to settle down, although before marrying Anthony was voted Australia’s most eligible bachelor. These peers have built their careers around children and, as noted in point 3, regularly include their own families in their videos. The family that eats fruit salad and romps-bomp-a-stomps together stays together. If you bring joy to millions of children, you can’t help but have a lasting positive effect on your family.
Does all of this inspire you to Wiggle, to get up and dance? You probably will if you have children. But let it inspire you to follow your passion in your work, your family and your life. Learn from those four professional consultants, Greg, Murray, Jeff, and Anthony. And hey, eat fruit salad. You need your health, friend.
Visit the Wiggles online at http://www.thewiggles.com.