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Girl Scouts turn into YouTube stars in quest to boost cookie sales

by Terri Peters / / Source: TODAY

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From Thin Mints to Tagalongs, everyone has a favorite Girl Scout cookie. With National Girl Scout Cookie Weekend kicking off the season for selling these classic treats, some tech-savvy Girl Scouts are adding YouTube commercial videos to their to-do lists, along with door-to-door selling and setting up tables outside grocery stores.

Allison Kuta, who lives in Davenport, Iowa, says her 9-year-old daughter Bella came up with the idea to create a YouTube video as a way to sell Girl Scout cookies four years ago. She has created a video each year since to let friends and family know when it’s time to buy.

Bella, who serves as a junior leader within her troop, says creating the commercials has helped her sales and taught her a lot about running a business.

“Everyone thinks it’s cute and can’t wait for me to put it online. I really like to make my commercial and get out and talk to people while doing cookie sales. I think it’s cool that we get to run kind of a business,” Bella told TODAY Parents.

John Raasch of St. Paul, Minnesota, says he and his daughter, Katie, 8, have created a video for the past two years, and that the creative idea, combined with Katie’s spunky energy, have definitely boosted their cookie sales, especially when it comes to reaching friends and family members who live far away.

Raasch says that while Katie and her brother Jacob, who makes a cameo in Katie’s video, both have a genetic liver disease that prevents them from eating the cookies, Katie loves selling the treats and getting opportunities to meet new people.

“It’s really fun to make the video and it makes people happy,” said Katie of her clip, in which she dances and acts silly while introducing this year’s line-up of cookies.

While the Girl Scouts have not officially suggested their members create these videos, Kelly Parisi, chief communications executive for Girl Scouts of the USA, says they’ve enjoyed seeing the creativity of the girls.

“Girls are digital natives and we love the energy and passion they show in digital media. Whether they are dancing around their cookie booths or singing silly songs to encourage others to buy cookies, we empower girls to be creative. But, protecting girls’ online safety is serious business and we have guidelines and pledges for adults and girls to ensure that the girls have a fun and safe experience,” said Parisi.

The videos range from informative lists of the cookie options available – like Bella’s – to song parodies and infomercials – such as one created by Gigi Duszynski, 7, of Monticello, Minnesota.

In the Duszynski family’s video, dad Andy dresses up as infomercial star Billy Mays and helps Gigi create a funny take on cookie selling. Gigi’s mom Stephanie says the Billy Mays theme wasn’t initially the plan for their video, but that once they realized her husband resembled the salesman, they decided to go with it.

“Gigi really fed off his energy and felt much more at ease having him in the video with her,” said Duszynski, adding that the clip has definitely helped her daughter with sales, and has boosted the “likes” given to another technological tactic her family is using for cookie sales – Gigi’s Girl Scout Cookie Facebook page.

In 9-year-old Tira Smith’s wild video, which features a gorilla and some chase scenes, the entire family gets involved. Mom KD, who lives in Anaheim, California, says Tira’s original idea came about because she wanted her dad to play a gorilla due to his out-of-control cookie eating. However, it was KD who ended up playing the gorilla in the commercial, which she says her daughter is thrilled with.

“I think (making videos) helps to get the word out with relatives, and reminds them not to buy from other Scouts because she’s selling them, but other than that, we just make them for fun. It’s a creative outlet for her,” said Smith.

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