Wild Freeborn found fame by accident, during a quest to sell 12,000 Girl Scout cookies. Along the way, she decided celebrity’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
The 8-year-old became an overnight sensation after Newsweek wrote about her cookie-marketing technique, and the fact that the Girl Scouts of America didn’t approve. Bryan Freeborn, Wild’s dad, videotaped his daughter’s sales pitch and posted it on YouTube. He also helped Wild create a Facebook page and use several other social-networking Internet tools to try and pump up sales. The Girl Scouts asked the Freeborns to take down the video, noting that Internet sales are strictly forbidden. The Freeborns complied, but noted that they weren’t really selling online because they weren’t accepting money online, and that they were only selling cookies locally, where they could be delivered in person.
Producers of the Today show saw the story and invited the Freeborns to appear on their show on March 13. CNN and Fox News also hosted the Freeborns for interviews. Dozens of other news outlets and Web sites have picked up the story since.
Bryan Freeborn says the media blitz has been a whirlwind, adding that he’s glad that it’s helped move the 97-year-old Girl Scouts organization from camping and crafting to an awareness of what children are really interested in. “The Girl Scouts did not have a Facebook presence prior to our campaign. But somewhere in the middle of it, once it started going national, they got it and started promoting it on their Web site.”
It’s all been an eye-opening experience for Wild, who once had dreams of becoming a Disney star and being on television like the stars of her favorite Nickelodean show, iCarly. Now when asked if she wants to be on TV all the time, she says, “No, because it’s very hard and tiring. You have to get up early.”
Mountain Xpress: Can you walk me through the trip you had last week?
Wild Freeborn: Let’s see. I came home from school. I usually get picked up by my grandma, so I asked my mom, “Why are you picking me up? Isn’t grandma supposed to pick me up today?” She says, “No, you need to pack to go to New York,” and I was surprised. First, I thought it was a joke. Then, as we started packing, it became real. I called my friends. My friend Lucy came to help me pack.
Then we went to New York, and it was big. We waited for two hours at the airport because there was a delay. We almost missed our plane to New York. Then we went to New York. First we were on the Today show.
MXWhat was your first impression?
I was mostly asleep in the car when I first got there, so I don’t really know.
MXSo you did the Today show?
We were in the green room. They gave me presents. There was makeup, T-shirts and jewelry and books.
Bryan Freeborn: Do you know who gave you the presents?
The Girl Scouts.
MXWas everything from the Girl Scouts?
Yes. Two necklaces and one bracelet. Ladies from the Girl Scouts were in the green room with us.
MXAnd the guy who interviewed you?
His name was Matt Lauer. He was nice. He just was a normal person, basically, except for he’s on TV every day.
MXAnd how did you think the interview went?
Good, except for people saying we were breaking the rules. But it was OK.
MXWhat happened next?
Then we went to CNN in a car, and the car was big and had peppermint candies. It took us to CNN. People were walking us there and they were very talkative and nice. And it was sparkly—that’s what the set was like. … But I did not get to see Morning Joe. That was horrible.
MXWhat happened next?
We did Fox News. We were in the green room. We ate donuts. Then we were on the set. It was small, and I was in a big chair, next to tall people. And the lady who was walking us around was very nice.
Bryan: Where did we go after we did our interviews?
We went to a giant Toys-R-Us and it had a Ferris Wheel inside of it. And there was a Barbie World. And there was a dinosaur who moved his head and really creeped me out. There was a gigantic dinosaur almost as big as this house. Then we went to this gigantic M&M store. It was three stories tall.
Bryan: How many colors of M&Ms did they have?
Four hundred. There was teal and pink and purple.
MXI saw your dad had written something about people on the street were …
They were stopping me to take pictures.
MXAnything else stand out about New York City?
When we got to the airport they said that we didn’t have a ticket, and I was getting sick and I totally just freaked out and I was like, “I hope that NBC can get a ticket, because I was really not feeling well.”
Bryan: You were holding it together. I think you remember it a lot worse than it really was. I’ve never seen a kid so composed.
And then, like as soon as we landed in Charlotte, I puked up all my food. Then I went home and had some warm tea and went to bed.
MXSo what’s the reaction been like since you’ve been back? Did anyone say they saw you on TV?
Yes, they did, because my class watched me on TV at school.
MXWhere do go to school?
MXAnd what grade are you in?
MXAnd who’s your teacher?
Ms. (Greta) Ciesla, my best friend’s mom.
MXWhat’s the tally now for how many boxes of cookies you’ve sold?
Bryan: It’s now 941. I sold two more boxes at work today.
MXWild, how does that make you feel?