Long associated with images of dorky vests and singalongs around the campfire, the 97-year-old Girl Scouts of the USA is trying to become cool. Or at least cooler.
With enrollment dropping sharply, the organization is experimenting with a total makeover of the Girl Scout experience.
What’s in: books and blogs written in girls’ voices on topics such as environmental awareness and engineering; troops led by college students; videoconferencing with scouts in other countries.
What’s out: textbook-style lessons on the value of helping others; shunning the Internet; moms as troop leaders for teenagers.
Thin Mints are not in jeopardy, but — OMG! — badges will be de-emphasized.
“We took a step back and asked, ‘What do girls need from us right now?’ ” said Eileen Doyle, the Girl Scouts’ senior vice president of program development. “There is consistency in our goals throughout our history, but we can maintain that while being fun, edgy and challenging for modern-day girls.”
Last year, the Girl Scouts hired its first-ever brand manager, Laurel Richie, a former senior partner at advertising powerhouse Ogilvy & Mather who oversaw campaigns for Campbell’s soup and American Express. Richie said the group’s image was stuck in an earlier era, the main reason for a more than 8 percent decline in membership, to 2.5 million, during the past 10 years. The organization has faced a particular struggle attempting to attract urban and minority girls.
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