Girl Scouts Gone Viral

It’s likely that Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Low would approve of her organization’s recent plunge into viral marketing. After all, Low used the then-newfangled telephone almost a century ago to declare her intention to start the Girl Scouts to a friend.

Like technology, cookie sales have been part of the organization since its early years. It’s a lucrative tradition: The cookies, including Thin Mints and Samoas, bring in $700 million in sales a year.

But cookie sales slipped about 1% last year, prompting the organization to look for new ways to get its message across to potential cookie buyers.

The result? The Girl Scouts posted a video on YouTube called “What can a cookie do?,” which has attracted about 24,000 hits since it was posted Jan. 19.

“We’re anxious to see how it works because it lets us get our message out in a cost-effective way,” Laurel Richie, chief marketing officer of the Girl Scouts of the USA, says. She also hopes the video will help engender trust among those viewing the ad. “There’s a greater engagement when a video is passed onto you, because it has the implicit endorsement of the person who passes it on,” Richie says.

The video focuses the connection between cookie purchases and how the girls use the funds to help their communities, learn business skills and build self-confidence. Its point: “Every cookie has a mission: to help girls do great things.”

While the video aims to get viewers to understand the philosophy behind cookie sales, it also directs viewers to a website where they can find a place to buy the treats.

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