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I started googling boy scout advertisement images.  What surprised me is all of the companies/groups (coke, pepsi, tire companies, bike companies, cigarettes, etc.) that used scouts in their advertisements.  GSUSA has a bit of that with their cookies.  Part of that is on National to see how the brand could be used.  It is amazing to see how scouting is fading into the background.  Just one of many examples (I found it interesting for both the history of scouts & how cigarettes used to be marketed).

 

cws-cigarettes-boy-scout-crop1.jpg

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There was a post in a BSA subreddit recently where some girls in a troop shared photos of them having fun on recent outings, including goofy faces and sticking out tongues. The photos were criticized

Great insight.  Reflect on the scout law and the values we want to teach.  We don't want to teach our scouts to look down on others.  Why would we want our marketing to lift scouting up by looking dow

We've had that discussion as well.  A constructive discussion needs both good ideas and also the hard realities. The latter is brutal. My council doesn’t have the faintest idea how to market what

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Some time ago,  (I was an adult then)  I remember seeing a tv ad (and I have not been able to find it online/youtube/etc. ..so much for everything being online).  The ad had three middle school age kids "hanging out". I think they were on bikes...   One says  something like " hey, I made level 18 in <video game XYZQ>  this summer. Pretty cool." Kid #2 says, "Yeah, I got to hang out at my mom and dad's pool".   Kid #3 says  "I hiked and camped  90 miles in the New Mexico mountains. "  Other kids turn and look wistfully at #3.... Cut to scenes at Philmont, ""BSA.  Adventure awaits.""   

At least that's what I remember..... 

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8 hours ago, FireStone said:

I had no idea Boy Scout Cigarette Cards were a thing. And now I'm on ebay looking to buy some. 😄

Based on the illustration this is from some other Scout Association rather that BSA, most likely one of the European associations.  I googled CWS cigarette cards and the only company I could find seemed to be Dutch.

 

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6 hours ago, SSScout said:

Some time ago,  (I was an adult then)  I remember seeing a tv ad (and I have not been able to find it online/youtube/etc. ..so much for everything being online).  The ad had three middle school age kids "hanging out". I think they were on bikes...   One says  something like " hey, I made level 18 in <video game XYZQ>  this summer. Pretty cool." Kid #2 says, "Yeah, I got to hang out at my mom and dad's pool".   Kid #3 says  "I hiked and camped  90 miles in the New Mexico mountains. "  Other kids turn and look wistfully at #3.... Cut to scenes at Philmont, ""BSA.  Adventure awaits.""  

Not sure about that one, or how effective it would be with kids. It kind of feels like an ad written by people who think they relate to kids but might actually be missing the mark. Some scouts will prefer the pool or video games sometimes.

It's similar to the anti-phone/screen message we see a lot of now, and I just don't think that comparing two things that kids enjoy and hoping to come out on top of the argument is a good strategy. Too much room for it to backfire.

The BSA has a long and shaky history of trying to appear to be a better alternative to something else. I think they would do better in marketing and advertising to simply say what they are and leave it at that, not make comparisons. Keep it simple.

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1 hour ago, FireStone said:

The BSA has a long and shaky history of trying to appear to be a better alternative to something else. I think they would do better in marketing and advertising to simply say what they are and leave it at that, not make comparisons. Keep it simple.

Great insight.  Reflect on the scout law and the values we want to teach.  We don't want to teach our scouts to look down on others.  Why would we want our marketing to lift scouting up by looking down on other choices.   ...  I like competitions and races and championships to find who's the best and to raise the game.  BUT, I don't like pride thru snearing another person's faults.  Should not be in our marketing too.  

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One observation is that our local soccer / baseball / basketball youth sports leagues do not do any marketing, but seem to have a bunch of participants.

Honestly the best marketing is word of mouth, youth having a positive experience, inviting their friends.  Our troop runs an Instagram account with 1,000 followers and a Facebook page with close to 500 followers.  Not sure this translates to youth joining.  This does give us a positive image in the area.  For the Scouts it does give them a platform to show their friends what they do in the Troop.

For the BSA we do face image headwinds after several years of lawyer ads asking if YOU were abused by the BSA.  That is a tough one, and while probably not front and center for families, it is in the back of their minds.

Overall it would be good to have some central marketing and (dare I say) brand awareness.  Focus on what we do well.  In our council we seem to have waaaay more council staff working on raising money than raising awareness.  That may be the root of the issue.  Volunteers and "pros" have a different idea of what Scouting is about.  Is it a program (volunteer mindset) or a cash cow (pro mindset).

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Examples of great marketing that we scouts did:

  • Parades
  • Ringing the kettle for Salvation Army in uniform
  • Setting up camp in a community park
  • Doing the same at the fairground for the week long Bicentennial, this included a gateway with every topo map covering a famous trail that traversed our county
  • Reading the opening script for fireworks at said celebration
  • Volunteering at dunking booths in uniform
  • Giving a talk at the Elks club

Regarding @Eagle1993's link.  Thanks to friends who obsess about such things, I know several excellent cigar shop owners who would slap our moniker on one of their imports if BSA allowed us to use their brand.

Over the past couple of decades dozens of movies and TV shows that had actors portraying characters in some kind of outdoor/patriotic/service organization, but their uniform is not Official BSA simply because of brand protection.

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I've noticed over the years that when a movie or television show wants to portray a female scout, they are wearing a similar uniform to the old Girl Scout dress even though the present uniform looks basically like a T-shirt. The movie Dodge Ball is a good example. The Boy Scout uniform is still portrayed pretty much like the Boy Scout uniform, give or take the brand protection. 

Barry

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3 hours ago, Jameson76 said:

One observation is that our local soccer / baseball / basketball youth sports leagues do not do any marketing, but seem to have a bunch of participants.

They get plenty of marketing from professional sports. Fame and money. Granted youth sports is more than that but marketing is what it is.

3 hours ago, Jameson76 said:

Overall it would be good to have some central marketing and (dare I say) brand awareness.  Focus on what we do well.  In our council we seem to have waaaay more council staff working on raising money than raising awareness.  That may be the root of the issue.  Volunteers and "pros" have a different idea of what Scouting is about.  Is it a program (volunteer mindset) or a cash cow (pro mindset).

Yes, council focus is misplaced.

I compare my council office to the local soccer office and ... ouch. You have a brutal point. For soccer they had one or two people at the office, which was a rented, small store at a strip mall. The head guy was very busy. They have a soccer complex (which is the most time consuming thing they deal with). They managed schedules, coaches that they found, collected money. They had training materials available for coaches. They did not need scoutbook, registrars, scout stores, FOS, JTE, DEs, district staffs, roundtables, BORs, district eagle chairs, pages of requirements, .... They probably had fundraising and service days for the soccer complex. Their focus is playing soccer.

I think that an important aspect not being addressed is the youth/volunteer ratio needed to run a successful unit. I haven't measured it but I suspect it would be eye opening. All those council staff are around assuming there are huge numbers of volunteers to deal with a lot of stuff. There aren't and there hasn't been that many for a long time. So they've been forced into focusing on their salaries.

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12 hours ago, qwazse said:

Examples of great marketing that we scouts did:

  • Parades
  • Ringing the kettle for Salvation Army in uniform
  • Setting up camp in a community park
  • Doing the same at the fairground for the week long Bicentennial, this included a gateway with every topo map covering a famous trail that traversed our county
  • Reading the opening script for fireworks at said celebration
  • Volunteering at dunking booths in uniform
  • Giving a talk at the Elks club

Regarding @Eagle1993's link.  Thanks to friends who obsess about such things, I know several excellent cigar shop owners who would slap our moniker on one of their imports if BSA allowed us to use their brand.

Over the past couple of decades dozens of movies and TV shows that had actors portraying characters in some kind of outdoor/patriotic/service organization, but their uniform is not Official BSA simply because of brand protection.

I think most of those things are things that adults think are great marketing for scouts. However, most kids who go to the supermarket with mom don't think, "Gee, I'd like to dress up in that dorky uniform and ring a bell..." Or stand around a flag... or ask for soup cans... or march down the street in the hot sun...  or give a talk in front of adults... Those are not naturally fun kid things for most kids. I've recounted this a couple times but the last den I crossed over, they couldn't wait to be scouts. They kept hearing how fun it was going to be, that they'd be camping and hiking and shooting, etc., etc. But at the crossover, all the new scoutmaster (who meant well) talked about was Eagle. What an honor it would be. How it would be really hard work, and they'd want to give up, but that they should persevere because it would help them get into college and they could put it on their resume when they went for a job...  They were 10. They deflated before my eyes. We aren't just bad at marketing, we are the anti marketers.  

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7 hours ago, yknot said:

I think most of those things are things that adults think are great marketing for scouts. 

They're great things to advertise to parents and the community but yes, they are dull for kids. 

I still remember when the Cubmaster came to my elementary school assembly. Had a fake fire, had a tent, talked about camping and being outdoors. I was friends with his son, so it was an easy sell, but if the pitch had been parades and service work to an eight year old, I don't think I would've had any interest. 

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Kids don’t look at the press about abuse either, yet all you all worry about how it affects BSA membership. Why?

Because parents write the checks.

Parades are fun. Setting up camp in a park where your friends can stop in and see you do what you do is fun. Sitting on a dunk tank in full uniform is fun (even when you friend who pitches well puts a buck down for a few throws).

Sitting and listening to some SM spout off about how great it is to have been a scout is as stupid as it sounds.

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Troops I know of rely 98% on cub crossovers, 2% on scout-friend recruitment for building a troop.  Most don't "need" to market and sometimes individual troops don't want to market.  Our troop is at 75 scouts.  That will drop to 50-60 in the next two years due to the double whammy of boys hitting 18 and the pack we work with having only a handful of crossovers to feed the troop.

I floated the idea of having a recruiting campout this year since we know our feed-in from packs will be light the next two years and it was received well.  We'll see if we do it.  When I was a youth we did that once a year.  We'd arrange to camp right out in front of everyone somewhere and invite the public in like an open house.  We were a small town but would usually get 3-5 new scouts a year doing that.

Nice thing about Troop vs. Pack is Troops are considerably less time sensitive.  Scouts can join almost any time since advancement is an individual responsibility.  For Packs, it's harder - if you don't get that "marketing" in right off the bat in the school year, a big influx of cubs mid-year creates and advancement challenge for Den  leaders, parents and scouts.

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11 minutes ago, curious_scouter said:

Troops I know of rely 98% on cub crossovers, 2% on scout-friend recruitment for building a troop.  Most don't "need" to market and sometimes individual troops don't want to market.  Our troop is at 75 scouts.  That will drop to 50-60 in the next two years due to the double whammy of boys hitting 18 and the pack we work with having only a handful of crossovers to feed the troop.

I floated the idea of having a recruiting campout this year since we know our feed-in from packs will be light the next two years and it was received well.  We'll see if we do it.  When I was a youth we did that once a year.  We'd arrange to camp right out in front of everyone somewhere and invite the public in like an open house.  We were a small town but would usually get 3-5 new scouts a year doing that.

Nice thing about Troop vs. Pack is Troops are considerably less time sensitive.  Scouts can join almost any time since advancement is an individual responsibility.  For Packs, it's harder - if you don't get that "marketing" in right off the bat in the school year, a big influx of cubs mid-year creates and advancement challenge for Den  leaders, parents and scouts.

I HAVE to find a way to recruit.  Our GT has 11 girls at the moment, and I can't rely on Cub crossovers.  I posted a flyer in the middle school newsletter as well as on FB, but that doesnt seem to really reap any results.  

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