Girl Scout YouTube Ad Violates Policy

Posted by Trish | Posted in Cookies, News | Posted on 03-13-2009

Girl Scout YouTube Ad Violates Policy

Just when you thought it was safe to embrace social media!

Girl Scout Cookie Entrepreneur Stymied by Internet Sales Ban

Earlier this year, Wild Freeborn (yes, that’s her real name) posted a YouTube video, with the help of her dad, with an enthusiastic pitch: “Buy cookies! And they’re yummy!” They set up an online order system where customers in their area could purchase Tagalongs, Thin Mints and Samoas. Within two weeks, 700 orders came in.

But Wild Freeborn’s e-commerce plan hit a major snag. The Girl Scout Cookie Program, which according to Newsweek “bills itself as the largest program to teach entrepreneurship to young girls,” says it prohibits all online sales of its cookies — primarily because of safety reasons. Its guidelines state that Internet use should only be for advertising.

I understand the drive for a parent to do what he can to help his daughter sell more boxes.  But the rules are there for a reason, and you should adhere to those rules.  This father knowingly broke a rule.  Some people have criticized the Girl Scouts for not allowing cookie sales online, but I don’t think those people understand that the policy is there to keep it fair and safe for the girls participating.  People may not realize that Girl Scouts don’t make a ton of money on the cookie sales.  The primary goal of the cookie sale, along with the fall nut & calendar sale, is to teach the girls entrepreneurial skills along with the life lessons of honesty and fairness.  The lessons learned from selling cookies is the main point of the exercise, not to harass you outside your local super market to buy some Thin Mints to line their pockets.

[Bryan Freeborn] told Matt Lauer of the “Today Show” last week, “We knew there was a policy that it wasn’t OK, but we thought we were taking orders and promoting the cookies and we seemed to think that was within the spirit of the rules. The whole intent was to help my daughter meet her goals, utilizing up-to-date marketing principles.”

He knew there was a rule against this, and yet let his daughter break those rules to meet her goal to go to camp.  To me, the lesson that it’s okay to break the rules when you want something bad enough is not as important as fairness and honesty.  Had this just been a YouTube video, I don’t think the GSUSA would have taken issue.  The online ordering system the father set up is where the line was crossed, essentially allowing his daughter and her troop to “steal” sales from other girls.  Bear in mind that I work in online marketing myself, and while I’m usually the first person to advocate brick and mortar organizations to leverage social media and online marketing to their benefit, I still stand behind the Girl Scouts in their decision in this case.

None of the articles I read commented on whether or not the girl had to forfeit those sales;  my best guess is that they let those orders stand at the time the website was taken down.  I’d love to see her embrace social media in other ways with working on different badges or other troop-run fundraisers to help them go to camp.   That would allow her father to teach her what he really thinks he’s teaching her, about updated marketing tactics and technology, without the underlying questionable rule-breaking message.

Comments

There are (6) Comments for the Girl Scout YouTube Ad Violates Policy

  1. [...] irritating me

  2. You know – we are DESPERATE for an online ordering system for Girl Scout cookies. Americans abroad have no way to get cookies. That includes ALL the military in Korea, Germany, Iraq, Afghanistan, and every other non-US base. It includes every State Department worker, from Addis Ababa to Zurich. We all love buying little touches of home and have US mail access. Yet Girl Scouts ignore us all. Yes, some troops buy cookies and send them to the military in the war zones. But who’s taking care of those abroad outside of war zones? Why not the Girl Scouts? I’d think it’d be AWESOME for us to have online ordering capabilities. We have no neighborhood grocery store to go to, no other way to order but online. We include families and singles, foxholes and mansions. And we want cookies!

    I am in Montevideo, Uruguay. How do I get cookies and support an organization I was part of for ten years?

  3. Hmm, perhaps this is something they could address. I know that a general online ordering system still wouldn’t fit into their program considering the whole reason they sell cookies is more about what the girls learn from it and less about the money, however perhaps you could reach out to some councils from your US home area and suggest to them that some troops could reach out to military folks abroad that aren’t necessarily in war-zones. I bet it’s just for lack of contact people that troops don’t do it.

  4. Meg,

    You wrote this request over a year ago so I am not sure this response would help you now. But here goes: I am a GS Leader in Montevideo, MN. As you may already know, our towns have a “Sister City” relationship for many, many years. If you are serious about wanting GS Cookies, you are welcome to write to my Girls and ask them to send you cookies. True, we have to follow policy. But because of our unique extended relationship, I’m sure we could come up with a solution. I met some the delegate last summer and never felt welcome. You may write to my Daisy Girl Scouts in care of the Mayor of Montevideo, MN USA. Ms. Debra Lee Fader, 611 West Highway 212′ Montevideo, MN 56265.

    Our Fiesta Queen was an honored guest in Montevideo Uruguay last year so we learned first hand that our two cities share a special bond.

    Hope this helps!
    Mary

  5. Meant to write that when we met the delegation we never felt MORE welcome…

    Please excuse my lack of text typing skills. What I meant to say is I truly enjoyed meeting the members of the uruaguaian

  6. Delegation.

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