Girl Scouts have sold cookies like Thin Mints to raise money for the organization for more than 80 years.
Girl Scouts have sold cookies like Thin Mints to raise money for the organization for more than 80 years. iStockphoto.com
Girl Scout Cookies have been something of an institution in this country for more than 80 years, and the ads have been updated over time.
But in 2010, the changes are going further. This season, girls are taking their pitches for the $700 million a year business online.
Online Cookie Marketing
At a recent Girl Scouts meeting in the San Francisco suburb of Antioch, four girls cluster around a laptop in troop leader Monique Lazzarini's kitchen. They're learning how to market their cookies with Evites, Facebook and text messages.
Read more about the history of the Girl Scouts.
Lazzarini's troop is taking advantage of the fact that for the first year, the Girl Scouts are embracing online cookie marketing.
Emily Costanza, 11, says she's enjoying the crash course in social media.
"I feel that everyone should be using this resource. It's very helpful, and it's a very well experience for younger children, because when they're older, they'll know how to use it, and it's a way to have fun with technology," she says.
Laurel Richie, chief marketing officer for the Girl Scouts of the USA, says that whether the girls are marketing in person or online, the important thing is that they're coming up with a plan and executing it.
"I love the fact that we're moving from door to door, to online, because it says that we're really in touch with girls today," she says.
YouTube And A Safety Matter
It was a different story last year, though, when an 8-year-old Girl Scout in North Carolina posted a simple video on YouTube to pitch her cookies.
"Hi, I'm Wild A. Freeborn and I need you to buy some cookies, because I'm trying to sell 12,000 boxes," she said in the video.
The Girl Scouts called the video a violation of its rules, and the ensuing scuffle became a national story. Richie says safety was the sticking point.
"So we just took a moment to breathe and make sure we could find a way to meet their desire to market online with our desire to make sure they do it in a way that is safe," she says.
Richie says they worked with Microsoft and developed a safety program for their members. She says the new Girl Scouts pledge about how to be careful online is just as important as teaching girls the technologies themselves.
Natalie Gutierrez, 10, ticks off some of the points.
"Um, don't show your picture, don't tell your last name — you don't want anyone to come find you, which is really bad," she says. "Don't tell them your phone number. If they say, like, 'It's safe, I'm OK, I'm a doctor' or something, they might be lying."
The News & Observer/AP
Girl Scouts canvass a Raleigh, N.C., neighborhood selling cookies in late January. This year, in addition to going door-to-door, many Girl Scouts are going online to market their annual treat.
Girl Scouts canvass a Raleigh, N.C., neighborhood selling cookies in late January. This year, in addition to going door-to-door, many Girl Scouts are going online to market their annual treat. The News & Observer/AP
Parents Running Out Of Time
The kids are doing their work online supervised by parents. Parents who are getting busier by the day welcome technological help, says Marina Park, the CEO for the Girl Scouts of Northern California.
Lately, she says, it's been hard to find parents with the time to volunteer with the group, let alone do cookie sales.
"If the parents are working, you really don't want [to be] walking your kids after dark when there's homework to be done and dinner to be made — and all of things that need to happen, and the neighbors you need to place their orders," she says. "So it really simplifies the whole thing."
Still, even the troops like Lazzarini's who've embraced the technology are doing some door-to-door marketing.