The Power of Girls Together
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

The Power of Girls Together

Since its founding in 1912, Girl Scouts of the USA has served more than 50 million girls. Rich in tradition, the strength of the Girl Scouts organization has always been its membership.

Paul Holmes

Since its founding in 1912, Girl Scouts of the USA has served more than 50 million girls. Rich in tradition, the strength of the Girl Scouts organization has always been its membership. With over 300 local councils across the country, it is committed to being accessible to all girls, everywhere.
Girl Scouts of the USA is open to girls ages 5-17, of all ethnic and religious backgrounds, in all corners of the country.  While the tradition of the Girl Scouts is one of its greatest strengths, its image in recent years, particularly among older girls, had become dated. In addition, the organization for a long time had seen a drop-off in membership among girls between the ages of 13 and 17, largely attributed to the perception that being a Girl Scout was “uncool” and didn’t have much to offer once girls hit their teenage years.
The Girl Scouts needed to shake that perception to keep existing and past members interested and to drive in new members. PSAs were created based on the organization’s key messages: “Girl Scouts: Where Girls Grow Strong,” and “Through Girl Scouting girls discover the fun, friendship and power of girls together.”
  National viewership: The objective of the PSA was to be aired to a widespread national audience, in order to meet the ultimate goals of:
Recruitment: The Girl Scouts sought to position itself as an enriching environment for girls of all ages and ethnicities, including teenagers, to drive potential new recruits to contact their local chapters and to regain interest from past members.
Image Update: Another goal of the PSA was to update the Girl Scouting image in an effort to focus on its mission of being a place where girls can experience new things together through fun and exciting activities and programs that will help them become tomorrow’s women leaders.
Consistency: With over 300 councils across the country, the Girl Scouts had often had trouble maintaining a consistent image throughout. The new campaign was to be adopted by all councils so that all local and national exposure would be unified in its message.
The television spots were filmed on location at a rope course, where several pre-teen and teenaged Girl Scouts of a variety of ethnicities, including one girl in a wheelchair, were shown working together to achieve challenging, athletic feats. Compelling background music and floating copy drove home the concepts of teamwork, strength and courage, capped off by the tagline: “Girl Scouts: Where Girls Grow Strong.”
Audio spots in 60- and 30- seconds were scripted as a realistic dialogue among a group of junior high/high school girls discussing their weekends and their various Girl Scouting activities, including rock climbing, web site design, auto repair and building a community playground. One of the girls, a former Girl Scout, is convinced to “come on back” to experience the fun.
Both spots were produced in Spanish and English versions to reach all possible audiences.
Distribution included hard copies to 600 television stations and 1,500 radio stations nationwide. Distribution strategy revolved around 300+ Girl Scouts councils, to ensure that each council’s market was covered. National cable and network television stations were included for the purpose of disseminating the new image on a national level. To help attract the attention of producers, eye-catching custom packaging was designed for both CD and video.
The ads were produced both with and without a national tag, so that the independent Girl Scouts councils had the option of handling additional distribution to local stations with which they had a relationship, providing a local phone number. This tactic encouraged nationwide participation by councils in the PSA campaign.
Distributed in September 2000, interim results have been encouraging. To date, the radio and television PSAs combined have aired approximately 14,000 times, with a dollar value of $2.4 million. The television PSAs have had viewer impressions exceeding 340 million, which includes pickups on ABC, CBS and FOX affiliates in 40 states. The Spanish spot has reached an additional 61 million viewers.
Audience impressions on the radio spots to date have reached 41 million in more than 40 states, including the Spanish recording.
The effects of the PSAs on Girl Scouts enrollment has not yet been determined, although councils have actively used them in independent outreach efforts and have reported an overall surge in interest from potential enrollees.
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