CEO Q&A: Kathy Cloninger, CEO, Girl Scouts USA

Kathy Cloninger, CEO of Girl Scouts USA, talks to Danielle Drolet about keeping the brand relevant and fresh as its 100th anniversary nears

Kathy Cloninger, CEO of Girl Scouts USA, talks to Danielle Drolet about keeping the brand relevant and fresh as its 100th anniversary nears



What will be the theme of the 2012 celebration?

We've been undergoing a transformation over the last several years, so the lead up to the 100th is about getting the public to think about us as a leadership organization in the US and understand the need to get more girls in the pipeline for leadership. We simply don't have enough women leading the country across most of our industries. We'll be announcing specific plans in November.

How do you keep the brand relevant?

The image is still seen as cookie sales, crafts, and camping, and we do all of that, but camping could be a rock-climbing experience or space camp. We have a camp CEO program, where high school girls spend a week at camp and are mentored by women business owners. The reality of girl scouting is very different from the public perception.

How is the organization handling the surge of the Hispanic population?

Nearly a year ago, we launched a Hispanic-targeted marketing campaign, followed by a general multicultural campaign. We had a big meeting out in California in September 2009 and invited all of the Hispanic and Latina-based advertising folks to come and hear about our campaign and story and have been able to generate a significant pro-bono media placement through our Hispanic partners, which include Delta (billboards), LER Radio, Univision (TV and radio) and Batanga (online).

Do you plan to develop further on the digital front besides Facebook and Twitter?

We have 50 million Girl Scout alums in the US and we aren't connected to them. We want to use technology to recapture them and create a call to action for women to get involved again. Similarly, we have plans for a digital way to bring all of the scouts in the US together to celebrate the anniversary virtually, as well as face to face.

We keep having the conversation about this balance of high tech and high touch because as much as we know we must be in the digital world, we also know girls need that live social time together to balance the amount of time they're spending online. We also need to help them overcome the issues of cyber bullying and those that prey.

What do you think is important to keep in mind moving forward in the digital space?

We keep having the conversation about this balance of high tech and high touch because as much as we know we have to be in the digital world, we also know that girls need that live social time together to balance the amount of time theyĆ­re spending online. We also need to help them overcome the issues of cyber bullying and those that prey.

Does Girl Scouts USA get involved in corporate partnerships?

We've got a significant partnership with the Dove brand for building self-esteem. We've learned from that relationship and now we are interested in expanding, but are very careful about how many and who. We do have a portfolio of partners that makes sense to us. It includes Coca-Cola, NASA, Lockheed Martin, and the Department of Education.

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