Birthday Bear Marketing Mayhem

When I was younger, I was a teddy bear collector. I loved plush bears, but all sorts of accessories with bears on them too. So, I probably would have lost my mind over Build-a-Bear’s “Pay Your Age” promotion — if I’d lived somewhere with the store.

Apparently, I would not have been the only person ready to lose their mind over the marketing ploy. Hundreds of people got in line to take advantage of the sale. Thousands of people received vouchers inviting them to purchase their toy another time. The company’s original July 12 event was so popular they had to call it off.

birthday marketing

“Based on the unprecedented response to our Pay Your Age Day event in our early opening stores, we are experiencing significantly longer than expected lines and large crowds. Local authorities are requiring us to limit the lines and crowds due to safety concerns,” the company stated.

Build-a-Bear stores, usually found in malls but also at tourist attractions in North America and Great Britain, let kids (and kids at heart) create a stuffed animal from scratch. The stuffed toys are not cheap — typically running $20 or more when you add in accessories. So people were excited over the idea of even kids as young as one-year-old being able to get in on the deal.

Build-a-Bear CEO’s Sharon Price John even ended up TODAY doing damage control. “We did see it wind up in social (media), and we did put a notice out for people that we thought the lines could be long, and we worked with the malls, but it was beyond anything we could’ve ever imagined.”

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Birthday Marketing Mayhem

In bringing back the promotion, the company has linked the idea more effectively to birthdays. On your birthday, you can “pay your age” to get a Birthday Treat Bear. The smiling brown bear, which normally costs $14, is available through the new “Count Your Candles” program. 

The kerfuffle was meant to launch the new Birthday Treat Bear, the CEO said. “Because up to one-third of our sales are actually associated with kids’ birthdays. It’s their most special day.

With the new iteration of the promotion, Build-a-Bear joins a long line of retailers marketing birthday-related deals. Based on a blog last month, though, in which a guy wrote to Ms. Manners to complain about embarrassing birthday attention — only ask about the birthday deal if you’re ready for a serenade or having someone else pick your dessert.

 

Birthdays in a Box

 

birthday decorNo, this is not a blog drawing on Justin Timberlake’s famous SNL skit offering his girl the present she’s always dreamed of in “a box” for the holidays. Instead, it’s about a clever birthday marketing idea I came across. Much more upscale than the birthday in a box kits I’ve seen (and still use when traveling) at something like a Target, the Birthday Butler offers portable, mailable birthday party packages for celebrations on the go.

The founder, Lisa Bader, loves “making people feel special on their birthdays” and wants grown-ups to be able to enjoy great, easy celebrations too. She’s a former Intel and Procter and Gamble branding and marketing executive who wants to “make it as easy as possible for you to celebrate your loved ones.”

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That’s an easy idea to get behind!

The BirthdayButler.com offers several different styles of birthday party decor, in two different package sizes. There’s a black and gold, more upscale-looking option as well as a pink and yellow party theme called Sweet Indulgence.

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My favorite thought is the Outdoor Theme one. Apparently inspired “by Mother Nature herself,” this party features greenery and natural woods.

 

I came across this party decor helper in an interview with her local TV station. Personally, I’m willing to give this idea two thumbs up. Not only because of its smart appeal to adults who are too busy or may be traveling on their birthday, but also due to its wholehearted embrace of the idea that grown-ups deserve a good birthday party too.

Smart Birthday Card Marketing

Birthday cards

Photo credit: Texican Chick via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

There are still some of us in the world that buy and send birthday cards. Judging by the size of the greeting card section in various retail outlets, this habit isn’t yet dead. In the past I’ve written about a great idea of having birthday cards give back.

Another option is to give a birthday card that is more than a message. For instance, you can shell out a few more dollars for a card that sings “Staying Alive” to the recipient on their over the hill birthday.

Recently one of this blog’s readers sent an image of a different kind of birthday card creativity:

Birthday cards

Yes, those are “delicious greeting cards” for a reason…they come with jellybeans. The marketing for this lays it out for you: “Your message” and “Their treat.” Clever packaging and making the birthday presentation all the easier? Score one for this birthday card marketer!

Birthday Cards as Marketing Tool

At the same time, birthday cards can be used by a company to spread goodwill. A reader also sent me birthday cards coming to her child from a summer camp. Her daughter’s birthday is in April, yet the counselors had written personalized birthday cards to their campers during each of her weeks of summer camp. Then, come April, she received four different, individualized birthday cards from the counselors of each of her weeks of camp!

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This is a fantastic reminder of camp fun and can keep the kids engaged with the experience year-round. What a simple way to make kids happy and foster camper loyalty! If I ever ran a kids camp (which will NEVER, EVER happen) I would steal this idea for sure.