Girl Scout ‘honesty first’ pitch wins record sales
Peggy McCourt loves to share how her granddaughter Charlotte broke the record for Girl Scout cookie sales this year. Charlotte sold 26,086 boxes, with 12,430 of those donated to American troops overseas.
“She did it with an ‘honesty first’ policy,” Peggy said. “An internet podcast spread the word very fast.”
Charlotte is a sixth-grader living in South Orange, N.J. Her grandmother Peggy lives in Bonita Springs, and watched in amazement as Charlotte’s cookie sales soared.
“That first night when I found out there were 2,000 orders,” Peggy said, “I never thought it would go beyond that.”
How did Charlotte’s story “go viral” on the internet and generate so many sales?
It started when her father, Sean McCourt, found out Charlotte hoped to sell 300 boxes of cookies. He mentioned that his wealthy friend in Colorado might like to buy some.
“She decided to write him a letter, and that was the first I learned of her taste-rating and honest disclosure,” Sean said. Charlotte had crafted a rating scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best-tasting, in her judgment.
“I gave my honest opinion of the cookies,” Charlotte said. “so people could buy my favorites, and donate some to the troops.”
“I strive to live by the first eight words of the Girl Scout pledge,” she explained. It states: “I will do my best to be honest.”
“I found it so quintessentially Charlotte,” her father added. “There’s no pretense in her. She doesn’t have that gene.”
Sean emailed the letter to his brothers and six friends, including Mike Rowe, a TV personality with a weekly podcast, “The Way I Heard It.”
“I write for Mike and we’re friends,” Sean said. Mike called him right away, saying, “I love it. Mind if I read it online?”
Mike “cracked up” as he read Charlotte’s cookie tasting descriptions, especially of her least favorite, the Toffee-tastic.
“It is a bleak, flavorless, gluten-free wasteland. It is as flavorless as dirt. I give it a 1.”
The “gluten-free wasteland” comment was shared thousands of times on the internet.
The podcast got over 10 million hits, Sean said. “Charlotte never intended for it to be funny. She was completely sincere, and a little perplexed to find people laughing,” he said. “But we explained it was with delight, not derision.”
Charlotte’s story became so widespread that she was featured on the CBS Evening News “On the Road” segment with Steve Hartman. She also appeared on the Fox News Business Network with Maria Bartiromo, and was called “a rock star” by Mike Huckabee, Peggy said.
Charlotte is interested in a possible sales career, but as yet, “I’m not sure what I’d like to sell,” she said. At her age, there’s time to decide.
For the taste ratings, Charlotte gave the Thin Mint a 9, “for the delectable chocolate/mint combination.” The Samoa also got a 9, for its “amazing flavor.”
“Notice how none of the cookies are a 10? The real 10 is donating a box,” she wrote. “It helps strike a spark in the lives of those keeping America safe.”
“I think Mike Rowe said it right,” Peggy said. “People were ready for a happy story that celebrates being truthful. With Girl Scouts, our military, and cookies, how can you go wrong?”
A mark of Charlotte’s diligence is that she sold 314 boxes the traditional way, surpassing her goal of 300. She visited neighbors, called and emailed friends and family, and counted those sales apart from the internet splash. “She didn’t mean for the internet to become such a huge thing,” Peggy said.
As Mike Rowe noted on his podcast, “When you tell the truth, good things happen.”