Kids in Tears as Build-a-Bear CEO Apologizes for Botched Promotion

Posted on by Patty Odell

Build-a-Bear is digging out after staging a one-day, “Pay Your Age” promotion that was so overrun with parents and children that most had to be turned away due to safety concerns crushing the souls of untold numbers of kids.

All across the country massive crowds waited outside Build-a-Bear shops for their chance to create a bear, normally $35 each, for just the cost of their ages. The same scenario played out across Canada and Great Britain. It was a simple marketing idea, but now executives are in full damage control as social media exploded with videos of teary-eyed kids, very sad faces and unhappy parents and the media jumped on the debacle.

Pay Your Age
Sharon Price John

Those left standing in line were given $15 vouchers.

CEO Sharon Price John told The Today Show this morning that the insight for the promotion was to bring attention to its Pay Your Age birthday program—which brings “lots of sales”—where kids can come in during their birthday month and pay their age for a bear.

A Look Back at a few Doozies:

“This started to wind up 24 to 48 hours in advance and there was no way to estimate the crowds,” she said. “This far surpassed anything we thought it could be. It was beyond anything we could have imagined.”

She said all the stores fully staffed and ready to go.

“I would have loved to have seen everyone get a bear, but it was the sheer number of crowds, we couldn’t possibility serve that many people. I’m a mom of three, and it can be the most disappointing thing when something exciting doesn’t happen. I take this very personally myself, I am very sorry that we couldn’t provide the service that we wanted to. We are staying very focused on doing the best to make it right for people.”


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