SCARBOROUGH (CUP) “? In a bid to boost recruitment figures, the Girl Guides of Canada (GGC) have kicked off a new ad campaign that has come under public scrutiny in recent weeks.
The new campaign, which made its debut mid-summer, features a series of risqué images that critics say come in stark contrast to the wholesome cookie-vending Girl Guide persona. One ad, which didn’t end up running, depicts “Candi,” a fictitious songstress posing provocatively for the camera, with a list of overtly sexual album tracks, such as “Taste Me” and “Naughty Girl” printed on a side tab. At the bottom of the ad, a strategically placed cartoon girl looks on, and points at the tagline that reads, “Why girls need guides.” Another ad looks like a magazine cover called “Modern Girl” with titles of articles, such as “Make His Interests Your Interests – it’s okay to pretend!” splashed across the front.
“The idea behind this campaign is just to turn the mirror back on society and say: ‘If this is what your daughter is being exposed to on a daily basis, wouldn’t it make sense to put her into Girl Guides?'” said Angus Tucker, creative director of John St. Advertising, who designed the ads.
Not all former Guides are fond of the new ad campaign.
Ashley Chin, a second-year Queen’s University student, said the new Girl Guides ad campaign uses an inappropriate and misleading recruitment strategy. “[Is Girl Guides] a means of preventative action? Or is it really an organization that offers an opportunity for girls to foster teamwork, leadership skills, and to learn and grow?” said Chin.
“The GGC program has always been about leadership development, self esteem, taking risks, making friends and having fun in a safe environment,” said Shauna Klein, marketing and development manager of Girl Guides Canada. She said the campaign has been successful in bringing the Guides back into the public eye, and that the general public has responded positively to the advertising campaign.
Klein said the goal of the ad campaign is to make parents realize that impressionable young girls are now, more than ever, in need of strong mentors to direct them through the barrage of negative messages transmitted through the media.
Another reason for this new marketing tactic is a steady 20-year decline in GGC membership, due to competition from other organizations, clubs or community centres that offer recreational programs or activities. Klein said the placement of the various ads “? all at discounted rates “? cost Girl Guides of Canada $500,000. The creative portion of the campaign was donated by John St. Advertising, as part of their pro bono work with not-for-profit organizations.
Klein said she expects an increase in membership during the fall Guide registration because of the eye-catching advertising campaign.