Girl Scouts Campaign Highlights Impact

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Girls and girls' activities have changed since the Girl Scouts last updated their brand image in 1978. But the 98-year-old organization is looking to address declining enrollment and a staid image with a new advertising campaign.

"One of the biggest misperceptions is that we're for little girls, that we're for middle-class girls and are an organization focused on cookies, camp and crafts," Sharon Lee, senior brand manager for the Girl Scouts of America, tells Marketing Daily. "What girls didn't know is that you can change the world with Girl Scouts."

The pro bono campaign introduces a new tagline: "What did you do today?" that is meant to challenge girls around the country to engage with their world, Lee says. "It was a really powerful way of engaging the audience in a dialogue," she says. "It also created an opportunity for us to be an answer to those questions."

Print advertisements, shot by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer David Hume Kennerly, showcase the broad range of activities and futures participating in Girl Scouts can bring. One ad shows teenage girls working together to build houses for Habitat for Humanity, while another depicts astronauts working on the International Space Station, with the notation that 22 of the nation's career astronauts have been Girl Scouts. A final ad features tennis star Venus Williams, touting not only her athletic prowess, but business sense and advocacy for equal pay.

"The way we see it is, Girl Scouts offers a broad range of experiences," Lee says. "What we do here is we offer opportunities to play soccer and we offer opportunities to clean up an oil spill."

In addition to the print ads, the organization has also created a video ad and collateral pieces for local chapters to use. Also included is an updated logo and typeface, Lee says. The organization is hoping to secure $30 million in donated media placement to promote the campaign.

According to the Girl Scouts' own enrollment numbers, only about one of every 10 girls in the United States participates in Girl Scouts. While that might be enviable for some organizations, it also means that nine out of 10 girls are not participating. To boost participation, the organization has spent the past five years retooling its programming, Lee says.

This year, the organization is also launching its first-ever Spanish-language campaign targeted specifically at the growing Hispanic population in the United States. That effort has already secured $10 million in donated exposure across several Spanish-language media, including Telemundo and People en Español.

"In the general market, there's a misperception," Lee says of the Hispanic-targeted campaign. "For the Hispanic audience, they haven't heard about us, or they think it's not an organization for them."

The campaign is expected to continue throughout 2010 and 2011 and will likely be updated with messaging geared to the organization's 100-year anniversary in 2012, Lee says.

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