Secrets and Digital Surprises

by Graziella Carbone

2011 – The Friends of the Mill and their Secrets
From January 10 to April 10 of 2011, the Friends of the Mill & their Secrets promotion offered as a gift five new 3D characters of the Friends of the Mill series modeled from the milk, chocolate and apricot Flauti, and Pan Goccioli and Saccottino chocolate and apricot snacks: Pan, the philosopher; Nino, the acrobat; Micotto, the meteorologist; Sfoglì, the dancer and Gal, the early riser, complete with a leaflet describing their main characteristics. To collect them, on the tray we inserted the little surprise box, in the original size, but updated with the images proposed in the new campaign, to store the new characters. The promotion was enriched by five little books The Secrets of the Friends of the Mill in which the characters, protagonists of a colourful and very animated story, managed to help the other Friends of the Mill thanks to a secret, revealed only at the end. The following were published: Milk and the secret of the gummy egg, Tino and the secret of the magic dough, Grì Grì and the secret of the colours of nature, Ciock and the secret of special balloons and Macy and the secret of milk balls.
For the first time three new characters appeared: Lagna (literally, complaining lady) The Sorceress Lagna, Bas and Long who, in the story, tried to get in the way of the Friends of the Mill. In the second part of each little book the secret was revealed which was nothing more than a “scientific” experiment. These experiments could then be repeated by the children, alone or with the help of their parents. Each little book was complemented by nice games to play alone or with friends. The idea of ​​the experiment was connected with the Tour of the Mill where children could try different activities such as: “Hands in pasta”, “Discovery Theater” and “Activities in the garden”. In the packages it was possible to find one of the five 3D characters or one of the five Booklets of the Secrets of the Mill. In addition, in all the supermarkets participating in the initiative, with the purchase of two choice packs of snacks, you could have as a gift the thrilling GameBook 5 Play with the Secrets of the Friends of the Mill. The book expanded what was proposed in the little books: the Friends of the Mill lived many adventures and solved difficult situations thanks to the knowledge of the secrets of Nature. As a gift, in each book there were also many stickers of the Friends of the Mill. And with the purchase of a third pack of snacks, the Friends of the Mill Snack Holder was received as a gift.

2011 – The First… Digital Surprise
In 2011, with the strong development of electronic technologies and the massive spread of smartphones and tablets, the first digital Surprise in the history of Mulino Bianco was created. Thanks to an application for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad it was possible to download an iLittleSurprise for free: the Hooded Marbles, an animated re-edition of a famous little surprise from the 1984 historical series.
The digital box was identical to the packs of the Eighties’ Sorpresine. The purpose of the game – as in the original – was to get to the finish line first, but with the application, accumulating points and games, it was possible to virtually play in truly surprising scenarios, in pure Mulino Bianco style. The digital Hooded Marbles allowed you to play alone or with friends; to play a single match or an entire championship full of prizes; you could choose your favourite marble from among those of the basic level and then, like in a real Championship, earn more and more beautiful marbles and experiment with new circuits.
Other surprises were the Magic Square and the Game of Pairs.

2011 – The new characters of the Friends of the Mill

The new collection of Friends of the Mill offered ten 3D characters, bad and … good, complete with accompanying leaflets, from August 10 to October 14 of 2011 in the packages of Flutes, Pan Goccioli and Saccottino with chocolate and apricot.

The bad guys 

  • Lagna The Sorceress was the enemy n.1 of the Friends of the Mill: she could not stand their healthy principles and the Valley of the Mill.
  • Captain Bird was the personal turkey of Lagna The Sorceress: at night he slept next to her bed and during the day he was on a leash. 
  • Bas was the low and shrewd helper of Lagna The Sorceress. He tried to do as little as possible and acted in a sly manner against Long. 
  • Long was the tall and foolish helper of Lagna The Sorceress. He tried to be smart, but he just was not able to … 

And the good guys:

  • Annino is the little mascot of the Valley, a very shy chick in need of affection, who never separated from his backpack – shaped like a Mill – where he kept all oof its treasures. 
  • Nella was the lucky Ladybug of the Valley. 
  • Trotto was the donkey of the Valley, keeper of the Mill and of the Iron of the Treasury
  • The Iron of the Treasury was the brightest horseshoe there ever was (even if it was around the neck of a donkey) and magically opened the Door of the Treasures of the Mill
  • The Great Book of Knowledge is one of the Treasures of the Mill: one day the goodness of Nature and the know-how of the Mill met giving life to this precious book. It was kept in the highest room of the Mill, the Treasure Room, and rested on a precious carved wooden lectern (which lit up). 
  • Goccio, who we already know. The 3D characters of this Back to School promotion carry an engraved “year 11” mark in the mold under the base, so as to make them immediately recognizable.

In the supermarkets participating in the initiative, with the purchase of two snack packs, it was possible to immediately receive the Book of the Valley as a gift to explore the Valley of the Mill, discover fascinating places and watch the magic of seeds, flowers and leaves and become a real Friend of Nature by playing the great game of the Valley; by purchasing an extra package, of snacks you could also have the notebook of the Friends of the Mill as a gift. Ample space was dedicated to the promotion on the website
At the end of the year the contest was launched: Win the Valley! It was a real box-game, very rich in details (and very expensive … but the brief that I was given was: “Do something beautiful, with a strong impact”), consisting of a 3D Game board, complete with 20 3D characters and pre-cut parts of the Valley with a three-dimensional effect. And the wheel – that was used as dice in the game – really turned …
A true work of paper converting perfection, the game was printed in Macomer, Sardinia and pre-cut in the province of Cagliari. We started the machines for the the printing operations on a Wednesday and did the die-cutting test on a Thursday. The supplier was really good because the blade pressure had to be perfectly calibrated: too little would not cut and too much would break through the cardboard. However, I managed to catch the last plane from Cagliari to Milan in time.
In order to participate in the extraction of the game box, it was sufficient to collect three different symbols printed on the packs of Flutes, Saccottino and Pan Goccioli.
Moreover, in 2011 the Mulino Village celebrated its hundredth stage in Rome. Among the many corners dedicated to activities for children, one in particular provided for the possibility of exchanging duplicates of 3D characters. For this special occasion I also went to Rome and I realized that – once again – the exchange of double surprises – whether they were old Little Surprise toys or new 3D ones – was always a fascinating adventure for children!