The client

Happy Ponies is a heart-warming series of twenty stories for 5-7 year olds written by Gail Yardley and published by both Gail and her business partner, Nicola Murgatroyd. The series is based on nine real-life miniature Shetland ponies and one Dartmoor pony from the Isle of Wight, owned by Nicola.

Having observed the characterful ponies when taking them as therapy animals to schools and care homes around the Isle of Wight, Gail felt inspired to bring their interactions to life. She penned the Happy Ponies stories at her home on the island whilst she cared for her mother and terminally-ill husband. Gail wove an important moral message into each of the stories for her young readers to learn from, such as the value of friendship, honesty and bravery.

The brief

bcsAgency was commissioned to create an overarching brand identity for Happy Ponies and to build and develop a website. It was important that the bcs team always captured the personality of each pony throughout this process so that the series would be as engaging as possible for Happy Ponies readers and their parents.

Since neither Gail nor Nicola had published a book before, the brief soon extended and bcsAgency was presented with the exciting task of creating, publishing, merchandising and launching the stories via press and social media channels.

FINAL front cover
The challenge

The bcs team had the challenge of transforming a series of stories about ponies into a fully marketable line of children’s books, complete with an interactive online and media presence and launching the first book, Sylvie and Friends, with accompanying logo, website and merchandise to help increase sales, exposure and awareness of the brand in time for the launch event.

The solution

bcsAgency began with a thorough planning stage to establish key dates and milestones to work towards, before undertaking a wealth of activity to deliver the brief. This included: sourcing illustrator Mair Perkins; creating the Happy Ponies logo and branding; designing and printing the first book; building the series’ website; managing the production of merchandise and collateral, including t-shirts, posters and banners; registering Happy Ponies with ISBN; setting-up the Happy Ponies Amazon shop and social media accounts ; carrying out local Isle of Wight and mainland PR activity around the first book, a website and social campaign from launch to present day.

The results

Over 100 people attended the launch of the first book, including a press photographer from Isle of Wight County Press.

The launch event was covered in several regional newspapers as well as the online news section of Isle of Wight radio, on which Gail was also interviewed. The launch caused a flurry of social media engagement, particularly on Facebook and there was plenty of positive feedback to be heard from readers.

ponies wide
Next steps

The remaining eighteen books in the series are already in planning, with book two – Molly Goes to the Beach – in the final stages.

Phase two includes developing the Happy Ponies website, introducing a blog, building press interest and growing a following on Happy Ponies’ social media.

What Happy Ponies think.

“It is wonderful to have had bcsAgency by our side throughout this process and going forwards. The team at bcs have made it all possible and we simply could not have done it without them. We look forward to our relationship blossoming as we publish the rest of the series. Thank you!”

Gail Yardley, Author