Girl Scout Cookies Are Going Digital

December 3, 2014 | blog | By Mike Sullivan


Three months from now, don’t look for the country’s biggest sales growth to come from Wall Street or Madison Avenue, or from any major American retailer. Look instead for little girls in green vests, wielding iPads and smart phones with a new program called Digital Cookie.

Say goodbye to the annoying cookies you have to delete from your computer every so often and say hello to the ones you can’t stop eating. Starting with a test this month and rolling out nationally in January, the governing body of the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A.has agreed to let Girl Scouts start selling cookies online to friends and family members around the country. Now, through the new platform, anyone anywhere can order cookies and have them shipped right to their door. As though Girl Scout cookies weren’t dangerous enough already.

For years, the national organization that sets policy for Girl Scouts has forbidden online sales arguing the purpose of direct selling was to teach the girls entrepreneurial skills like selling, interacting with people, handling money, and delivering product. But after three years of testing and development, the Girl Scouts have developed a safe, secure way for girls to sell online while still protecting their identities.

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The new program integrates digital selling with traditional “door-to-door” selling and even gives scouts the option to personally deliver cookies purchased online. While each participating girl gets access to her own web page, her parent or guardian must approve everything that goes on it. Girls younger than 13 must use an anonymous designation to keep their names and contact information private.

Echoing past concerns from the national governing board, a number of editorials this week lamented how this new option will affect the skills learned by the girls and suggest the move was only made to push the $800 million cookie machine closer to $1 billion in sales. And to that, I ask, what’s the problem? Money raised from Girl Scout cookie sales funnels back into the local troops who sell them. But there’s an even bigger reason why this is a great move for the Girl Scouts.

For years, both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have struggled with relevance and keeping up with the technological world that today’s kids are growing up in. With social media, video gaming, smart phones and on-demand entertainment at every turn, activities like camping, cooking, crafts and community service don’t hold the allure for the same number of kids they did decades ago. That’s why this move from the Girl Scouts is not only smart, but needed.

The world is digital and teaching scouts how to interact and thrive in that world is crucial to their development and education. The best sellers will certainly be the ones who also incorporate face-to-face selling to leverage the charm, the cuteness, and the hard work that has always gotten customers to order 10 boxes of Girl Scout cookies when two would do. But moving forward, Digital Cookie should and will be a huge part of the sales push. I for one, think it’s great to see the Girl Scouts thinking ahead, not just for themselves, but for the girls they represent.

Mike Sullivan

President at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency


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