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Video: Girl Scout discusses cookie controversy

By
TODAY contributor
updated 3/13/2009 10:39:29 AM ET 2009-03-13T14:39:29

The cookie crumbled for young Wild Freeborn. The precocious 8-year-old Girl Scout came up with an idea as independent as her name to hit her goal of peddling 12,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies this selling season — but she ran afoul of the group’s parent organization.

With help from her Web designer dad Bryan, Wild published a YouTube video in which she made a perky personal pitch: “Buy cookies — they’re yummy!” But by setting up a selling operation online, she violated Girl Scouts of the USA rules that ban Internet sales.

Good intentions
Appearing on TODAY Friday with her dad and Denise Pesich, spokeswoman for Girl Scouts of the USA, Wild told Matt Lauer her intentions were nothing but honorable when she took her cookie peddling to cyberspace.

“Last year my friend and I were looking through magazines that had Girl Scout camps, and we thought that would be really fun,” the 8-year-old explained. She knew that selling 12,000 boxes would be enough to send her troop to summer camp.

So Wild tried the selling cookies the old-fashioned way, hitting neighborhoods and businesses. But then she approached her dad and asked, “Can’t we use what you do at work?”

Bryan Freeborn obliged by helping his daughter put a decidedly modern twist on the nearly 100-year-old tradition of Girl Scout entrepreneurship.

Right out of the cookie box, Wild’s online operation was a hit. In fact, she had already moved some 700 units at $3.50 a pop before some disapproving parents dropped a dime on her with local Girl Scout officials.

TODAY
Girl Scout Wild Freeborn pitched her cookies via YouTube video.
That’s when the cookie scheme crumbled. Wild was ordered to take down her YouTube video and cease online selling.

Safety first
Spokeswoman Pesich told Lauer that the time will come when Girl Scouts can hawk their wares online — but that day isn’t here yet.

“There are good reasons for that,” Pesich explained. “We want to make sure that whatever the girl is doing is integrated into the program that she’s studying, we want to make sure we are in the development stages of a technological platform that will integrate it and be fair and equitable for all girls. But more importantly, it’s girl safety at its core.”

Lauer asked Pesich: “Is it less safe to sell online than to go door to door in some communities?”

“When we sell door to door we always have adults accompanying girls,” Pesich replied. “In this case, we have a very concerned father overseeing the process, and we know she’s relatively safe. But not in all cases is that true.”

TODAY
Wild Freeborn’s father Bryan, a Web designer, felt the online selling scheme was within the spirit of Girl Scout rules, if not the letter.
Bryan Freeborn acknowledged to Lauer that he was aware of Girl Scout rules against selling online, but he didn’t believe he and his daughter were breaking them. He pointed out that while Wild’s YouTube video could be seen all over the world, they only accepted orders from the Asheville, N.C., community they call home, so that Wild could make the deliveries in person.

“We knew there was a policy that it wasn’t OK, but we thought we were taking orders and promoting the cookies and we seemed to think that was within the spirit of the rules,” he told Lauer. “The whole intent was to help my daughter meet her goals, utilizing up-to-date marketing principles.”

For her part, Wild seemed nonchalant about having her YouTube selling campaign deep-sixed. When asked by Lauer whether she could still meet her goal of selling 12,000 boxes, she smiled and said, “Yeah, probably!”

Of course, it’s going to take a whole lot more shoe leather for Wild to meet her goal now. But the youngster may still have an ace in the hole: Lauer told her the TODAY crew was ready to place orders.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

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