Build A Bear's 'pay your age' offer could be brand's biggest disaster...or greatest success

The company was forced to abandon its ‘pay-your-age’ campaign, an initiative that offered UK customers the chance to buy any bear, which can cost up to £52, for the price of their child’s age, over safety concerns due to its popularity.
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The CEO and founder of the retail marketing firm, Savvy has highlighted the lessons that ought to be learnt from Build-A-Bear’s pear-shaped marketing ploy.

The company was forced to abandon its ‘pay-your-age’ campaign, an initiative that offered UK customers the chance to buy any bear, which can cost up to £52, for the price of their child’s age, over safety concerns due to its popularity.

In what the company has stated was ‘overwhelming and unprecedented’ consumer response, Police were called to scenes of ‘chaos’ as well as queues stretching for a mile long.

Many of the company’s stores – including Sheffield’s Meadowhall shopping centre, Birmingham’s Bullring, Telford and Basingstoke – had to shut for the rest of the day following demand.

Parents on social media criticised the event, saying they were ‘disgusted’ by the lack of organisation and their children were left ‘heartbroken’ when they could not get a bear.

The debacle has prompted response from Savvy CEO, Catherine Shuttleworth who has said that lessons need to be learnt over the power of social media.

She said: “The great idea of pay your age at Build A Bear has backfired spectacularly today. It’s a lesson to learn that with social media unbelievably good deals spread like wild fire and are passed on to like-minded shoppers in seconds.

“Certainly this has put Build A Bear into a tricky spot. Will it be their biggest disaster or greatest success? Only time will tell.”

In a statement on its Facebook page, Build A Bear Workshop said: “We understand our guests are disappointed, and we are working to address the situation. We will reach out to our valued guests as soon as possible.”

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