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March 12th is National Girl Scout Day, and I am a huge fan.
Several years ago while freelancing as a copywriter, I pitched with a friend’s agency Monaco Lange for the Girl Scouts USA annual cookie sales campaign.
We won, and in the process of producing the campaign, I learned quite a few things that I still tap in marketing today. I caught up with Greg Monaco, Creative Director of Monaco Branding and Creative, and we brainstormed a few teachable lessons:
- The brief is often right on the box: New at the time, the packaging explains five life-long skills that girls can learn by selling cookies – goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics.
- Education is a key to engagement: “How To Buy Girl Scout Cookies” was our cornerstone of the creative strategy — a video, web page and print ad helped the target audience to be part of the solution with maintaining eye contact, doing a firm handshake (“Don’t call me cute”) to asking where the money goes. Inspired by David Ogilvy’s famous series “How To Create Advertising That Sells” I drafted for the pitch a long-copy ad which spelled them out, very close to the one that would later run in magazines.
- Be scrappy: Casting real Girl Scouts was not only authentic, but less expensive. Despite its national scale, the project wasn’t well funded. The directors who all bid on it, including a former Girl Scout, did special rates to create something both creative and special. We went with Adam Jones who not only had a great sense of humor and style but was entrepreneurial in helping us stretch our shoot to include the core video, audio, digital and print assets over just two days on a green room set in Chelsea.
- Be bi-lingual: We’re a diverse and increasingly multi-lingual society so should plan for this upfront rather than simply translate later. Our Spanish-speaking copywriter was a “trans-creator” rather than a translator. Monaco is still emphatic about this: “This distinction is crucial. Literal translations won’t relate to people in quite the same way. You need a copywriter for each language.” We developed assets across print, digital, TV and radio in English and Spanish.
- The other sell is internal: GSUSA was a decentralized structure with 100+ councils dotted throughout the US—each council operating on its own, with its own P&L. So it was a national campaign but deployed on a local level. Our job was magnified because we needed to get council CEOs on board with using the assets and employing the strategy. “We choreographed a webinar to teach all the councils what we were doing with the marketing plan and assets,” remembers Monaco. “We brought them in on the process so they would understand the strategy and fall in love with the creative. It was always their choice to use the work, or not. Without council buy-in, the entire campaign may have been shelved.” Here’s the Nassau County council still using one of the spots on their site.
- Good work takes great clients: Our client Mirna Hernandez was amazing, passionate about the details from the high-level concept to every detail of production and deployment. “The work” is always centre stage in the creative fields, but at the podium should be the people who ask for it, approve it, guide it and take responsibility in the end for it.
Through the lessons on those iconic boxes I learned quite a bit about life-long business skills. Parents with Girl Scouts in their house probably notice that I will only buy cookies through the kids directly, which I hope the campaign finally helps explain.
March 12, 2019 at 07:41AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs