Build-A-Bear’s “Pay Your Age” promotion offered children the chance to build their own teddy bears and pay their age – a one year old would only pay £1, for example, for teddies that usually range from anywhere between £10 and £21.50.
Unfortunately, far too many teddy bear enthusiasts turned out on the day, resulting in shoppers being turned away after safety concerns were raised about the large crowds, and some stores were closed.
— CNN (@CNN) July 13, 2018
Per local authorities, we cannot accept additional Guests at our locations due to crowd safety concerns. We have closed lines in our stores. We understand some Guests are disappointed and we will reach out directly as soon as possible. https://t.co/aSFfPCcfsG pic.twitter.com/WZJ53tOAEH
— Build-A-Bear Workshop (@buildabear) July 12, 2018
Build-A-Bear released a statement, explaining that the high demand was not anticipated:
“Build-A-Bear Workshop’s Pay Your Age Day event generated an overwhelming response, resulting in long queues, extensive waits and disappointed Guests,” it said.
“We feel it is important to share that, based on the information available to us before the day began, we could not have predicted this reaction to our Pay Your Age Day event.”
In response, the brand has launched a new offer – by signing up to the Build-A-Bear Bonus Club, members who log in to their accounts before 18 July will receive a £12 voucher to spend in store. These vouchers can be used up until 31 August, and customers are encouraged to delay their visits.
In addition, a new “Count Your Candles” birthday programme has been announced, whereby children under 14 can still pay their age for a bear for a new Birthday Treat Bear during their birthday month.
Naturally, the brand has been on the receiving end of ridicule and anger from disappointed parents.
IHOP: We’ve come up with the most disastrous marketing campaign of 2018!
Build-A-Bear: Hold my bear…
— Anthony (@KFRGFrogatelli) July 12, 2018
The voucher thing is bullcrap! I have a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old, that would’ve cost us $4 for two stuffed toys. Now instead we get a single coupon (one per account) for $15 dollars off?! That doesn’t even come close to your promotion! That’s pathetic!
— Creselin (@creselin) July 12, 2018
Of course, other brands aren’t letting Build-A-Bear off lightly either, and are seizing the opportunity to grab some time in the spotlight:
— Chuck E. Cheese’s (@ChuckECheeses) July 13, 2018
Just because @buildabear let you down on #PayYourAge doesn’t mean we will. We are honoring the #PayYourAge promotion online through Sunday July 15th on our website. Now turn that frown upside down! #teddybear #promisekeeper #celebrate pic.twitter.com/ceudd6Q6dC
— The Bear Factory (@thebearfactory_) July 13, 2018
How much damage will the failed promotion do to the brand? It remains to be seen…but given the fact that the business is still handing out £12 vouchers – and teddies can cost more than £20, before outfits and accessories – there’s still a chance it could be raking in the cash off the back of this.